Devourer - Across the Empty Plains
Hailing from Sweden, the cold black metal, one-man band Devourer's latest release is entitled "Across the Empty Plains" and it continues the frigid onslaught. The second full-length album from Devourer, this album showcases an evolution in style.
One of the great things about the internet, aside from being able to view funny cat pictures at 3am on the toilet is that it allows bands to independently release music much easier than in the past. Sites like Bandcamp make this process even easier and facilitate the discovery of new music that otherwise would be relegated to the oft-forgotten underground.
Firstly, of note is the album's artwork which evokes feelings of desolation, showcasing the empty plains the album is named after, ones that are only inhabited by death and desolation. The music reflects this sound and focusing on the vocals, I think that they are very fitting and aid to the atmosphere, creating something that is both memorable and unrelenting. While coarse and abrasive, there is a clarity to them that makes the lyrics legible. Vocally, there is a powerful strain to them, a strong and forceful, yet pained style to the words.
Musically, the album starts off with a brooding feeling, a bit slower before picking up steam. The second song on the album is one of my favorites; "Perdition" is a fast audio attack, slicing like the scythes on the album's cover. Riffs of ice emanate from this song, cold and immersive, there is a lot of variety present which aids the atmosphere and its structured in such a way to draw the listener in. Towards the end of the song, haunting quiet takes over, and this tempo change is akin to the calm before the storm as the album has only begun.
The eponymous title track is the fourth song on the album and a slower paced one. Normally I am one that prefers faster songs but this slower track is phenomenal and just oozes atmosphere. The vocals shift adds another layer of depth to the already substantive song. The next track is "Deeds of Rancor", and this one picks the pace up quite a bit. The ferocity of this track adds another level to the depth contained within.
Towards the end of the album, the penultimate song, "A Misanthropic Introspection", delivers some of the best musicianship of the album's duration. Starting off with some incredibly powerful and enthralling drumming, the song just sucks you in and does not let go. The cold nature of the release is maintained throughout this song, and it is everything from catchy to barbarous simultaneously.
Ending the album is a slower track, entitled "Omega", it's probably one of the heaviest parts of the album, there are slower and more atmospheric parts to it as well but it retains a "heavy" feeling throughout. As the music fades away, a cold wind blows and gives way to the emptiness and desolation that was present at the beginning.
Compounding atmosphere and unrelenting ferocity, Devourer's latest release is incredibly strong. Compared to his prior EP, this latest release focuses more on black metal, incorporating fewer elements of death metal within it. The first Devourer album, "All Hope Abandon" is a more raw, black metal release compared to this new one. The production has improved for this new release and the atmosphere is different, while remaining strong, albeit a different flavor of dark. The musical evolution from previous releases is clear and I'm anxious to see what dark concoctions are next.