The latest in a string of releases on Dark Descent Records to have grabbed my attention is the third full-length album from Belgium's Emptiness, Error. I can't quite remember what attracted me to the band initially but I strongly suspect it was the name. See, I study and practice Buddhism and the concept of emptiness is central to that belief system. However, this particular Emptiness is not all about peace and love. Quite the contrary. Instead of emptiness as the nature of all existence, the feeling I get from Error is the emptiness of the soul. Leading the charge through the ethereal darkness are bassist/vocalist Phorgath and lead guitar/vocalist Olve J.LW. Both of which are also members of (purer) black/death metal outfit Enthroned. (Their 2012 album, Obsidium is excellent.) Rounding out the quartet on rhythm and drums respectively are Phil P. and Jonas Sanders.
Across the album's nine tracks, Emptiness captures the all-pervading grim atmosphere of black/death/doom much in the same way as Hooded Menace. One difference being, Emptiness manages to take the dissonance and angularity present in many of the bands of the so-called "Sumerian-core" ilk, slow it down and infuse it with the requisite level of darkness necessary to fit the band's modus operandi. On Error you'll find that the weight of death metal coupled with the malicious fervor of black metal makes for an intense combination. Add to that a "noise" element and things really get captivating. In the title track there is even a saxophone that muscles its way into the melee. And in my opinion, it works better here than the sax on the new Napalm Death album. (Gasp!)
Cutting through the sense fog of uneasiness and chaos that envelops the album is a sense that these songs are actually fun to play. The corn-free "mosh parts" are interwoven so seamlessly that the listener may be taken by surprise by the urge to throw oneself against another. I'm not suggesting an Emptiness show would be plagued by circle pits, but the riffs do compel one to be engaged beyond merely raising some invisible oranges and nodding along. Betraying that tonic for inducing metal camaraderie are the almost aqueous vocals.They are drowning in their own cold-hearted menace. They sound as if they belong to a sinister, disembodied pan-dimensional being occupying your cerebral cortex and manipulating your very existence. Underlying the bludgeoning force laid upon the listener of Error is a subtle beauty. Certain passages, riffs or even just notes elevate the otherwise drag-you-through-the-pits-of-hell atmosphere. Although, it very well may just dig its hooks into you do just that.
Emptiness has been around since 1998 with their first full-length, Guilty To Exist,being released in 2004. But I've just been turned on to them now. I feel like I've been missing out for the last eight years. But that's no reason you should miss out any longer. This misanthropic journey to the precipice of insanity is available now from Dark Descent Records.