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EMPTINESS, THE  self-titled  CD   (K35 Incorporated)   11.98
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     I get all kinds of strange black metal here at C-Blast, but the recent debut from French outfit The Emptiness is definitely one of the strangest that's come in here lately, offering a surrealistic strain of avant-garde blackness that combines muted BM-style drumming with a miasma of hushed croaked vocals and almost theatrical singing, backed by wailing dissonant horns and piano, and streaked with murky, wavering electronic keyboard tones that all fuse together into this very odd, weirdly jazzy mutation of blackened prog. Not to be confused with the slightly more well-known Belgian band called Emptiness, these guys have a much more tenuous connection to traditional black metal, with most of it existing just in the band's aggressive, blastbeat-laden drumming.

     The first time I heard these guys, I was much more reminded of that Rhode Island outfit Gravesideservice, who also combined black metal style drumming with weird classical elements, but as The Emptiness's eponymous debut continues to unfold, this stuff ends up going in a more hypnotic and unsettling direction. Thanks to those grating horns, there's also a really heavy avant-jazz influence, with several tracks having a chaotic, improvisational feel. The whole album has a constant backdrop of weird electronic sounds and droning instrumentation that lurks behind each of these eight songs, and it's against that backing swirling murk that The Emptiness drapes their blaring trumpets and squealing saxophones, often joined by washes of eerie, funerary chamber strings; that stuff alone would have made this a kind of creepy, outsider jazz album, but with the addition of those blastbeats and thrashing tempos that blaze through most of the songs, it becomes something much more crazed. Like the song "Why ?", which at first unfolds into a much less metallic, more straightforward (but still plenty weird and dissonant) avant-jazz sound, morphing from a clattery, almost Bohren-esque darkness into a murky black blast. Those dramatic vocal croaks are pretty malevolent as well, spitting a stream of consciousness flow of misanthropy and existential despair, and the guitars creep through the shadows, often relegated to a repeating minor key arpeggio that circles endlessly deep in the mix. It's an unusual but terrifically evil sound these guys have going on, the majority of this resembling some far-out atmospheric European jazz improvisation with ghoulish vocals, frigid blastbeats and swirling horror-movie organs glimmering blearily in the background. It can be downright spellbinding at times, an album that might well appeal as much to fans of ugEXPLODE-style aggro jazz as those into the more outrť fringes of black metal inhabited by the likes of Aderlating, Nahvalr, Gnaw Their Tongues and Mamaleek.


Track Samples:
Sample : EMPTINESS, THE-self-titled
Sample : EMPTINESS, THE-self-titled
Sample : EMPTINESS, THE-self-titled