November 24, 2017

Thantifaxath - Void Masquerading as Matter

By Justin C. The new Thantifaxath EP, Void Masquerading as Matter, starts with a song called "Ocean of Screaming Spheres." That's all you need to know. Go buy it. O.K., fine, you want more details? I can help you out. This 35-minute "EP" finds
By Justin C.


The new Thantifaxath EP, Void Masquerading as Matter, starts with a song called "Ocean of Screaming Spheres." That's all you need to know. Go buy it.

O.K., fine, you want more details? I can help you out. This 35-minute "EP" finds Thantifaxath once again pushing the boundaries of their dissonant black metal, teetering between the abrasive and the downright chaotic. As with the transition from their self-titled debut to Sacred White Noise, the band makes more strides forward, although "outward" may be a better description. The jagged, off-kilter riffs are still here, as is the audible bass that anchors the songs without pushing too much bottom end. But there's also a new expansiveness. The previously mentioned opener transitions halfway through the song to a slow, somber piano line accompanied by a swarm of angrily buzzing insects. The bass eventually comes back, roughly mimicking the piano line, but ultimately leading into frenzied accelerandos and crescendos as the vocals become more and more desperate.

The second track, "Self-Devouring Womb," uses a similar sense of expansiveness. A mournful section of violin and acoustic guitar puts one in mind of the soundtrack of an old, black-and-white movie. There's a train platform, and the leading man is leaving the love of his life--maybe to join the front lines of World War II--but instead of a bittersweet and predictable ending, seeing the lovers reunite or the woman left behind to mourn him being killed in action, the man throws himself into the machinery of the train before it even leaves the station. Even Thantifaxath's quiet sections lead to a profound sense of unease.

Photos by Carmelo Española.

The performance and compositions are virtuosic--just check out the dizzying guitar lines that run up and down throughout "Cursed Numbers" and enjoy the warm, blissful feeling that comes from part of your brain being liquified and dripping out of your ears. This track is probably, at times, the most traditionally heavy hitting, but there are still bits of what I call in mind "evil twinkling" and a bassoon (or electronic equivalent) adding a plaintive line. The song refuses to be pinned down, nearly falling apart in the middle before moving to full blast again.

And then there's the closing title track--a seven-and-a-half minute choral piece. This isn't unprecedented for the band. The first track of their self-titled debut was also a choral piece, but this one pushes even further into the realms of the bizarre. It's as if the band took Mozart's Requiem and pushed it through some mathematical space just beyond human understanding. The song is punctuated by restless lines in the higher voices, occasionally contrasted with forceful blasts from the low vocalists. As with most of the album, there's often a sense of imminent closure coming up, perhaps in the form of a nice, consonant blast to offset the dissonance, but the song, and the album itself, drift off on a mysterious note rather than ending. A fitting end to another brilliant album for this band at the end of a bizarre, unsettling year.

Tagged with 2017, black metal, Carmelo Española, Dark Descent Records, Justin C, Thantifaxath
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