By Ryan Falla
Experimental black metal band Emptiness make their way back to the front of the scene with the release of ‘Not For Music’, the anticipated follow up to their critically successful 2014 release ‘Nothing But The Whole’. Active since 1998 and based out of Belgium, Emptiness chooses to define black metal with a modern vision that refines traditional black metal, embracing their experimental tag whole-heartedly. ‘Not For Music does something that escapes many bands; giving great care to creating an atmosphere so palpably thick you could suffocate on it.
Emptiness isn’t concerned with attacking you out of the gate, their talent is in carefully crafting very real feelings of doom. This allows them the privilege of taking the time to build and maintain one distinct atmosphere. This results in an album that takes a far more “back-seat” approach than most black metal albums, softly whispering their dark visions into your ear as the devil on your back.
Experimental is typically a tag used to help define a band that takes a strange approach to their genre without the describer of said band truly understanding the outside elements they bring to the table. ‘Not For Music’ very much does what one would expect an extreme stoner metal band such as Bongripper or Om to do; it’s low, it’s heavy, it’s dark, it’s everything you didn’t know you wanted from a black metal band.
Every song is a perfect example of what Emptiness strives to do and how they succeed immensely. The track ‘Digging the Sky’ paints the most beautiful picture of death and demise, while tracks like ‘Ever’ takes a forward approach with more direct instrumentation while retaining this vision. Instead of looking for percussionist Jonas Sanders to add the final punctuation on what they do, the band Emptiness aims to consistently support the intensity of each member’s musical contributions, leading to an effort that raises them to all the unbelievable heights.
Emptiness guitarists Olve Lomer-Wilbers and Peter Verwimp shun the typical guitarist roles, opting to contribute heavily to the atmosphere without regard for trying to lead. The bass and vocals are an absolute powerhouse on this album, coincidentally both roles filled by bassist/singer Jeremie Bezier and his strangely gripping ability to bring the low ends of the bass and his softly demonic vocals into almost one audial spectrum. As any good vocalist, he highlights what his music is doing behind him, bringing the eerily crafted atmosphere all together to deliver a strange and fascinating vision that you won’t want to escape from.
With an album this fascinating and well-written, I could go on forever deconstructing why their experimental vision leads to a massively successful formula. Words can only do a truly fascinating work of art so much justice, and at this point you just need to experience this work of art for yourself.
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Record Label: Season Of Mist
Release Date: January 20th 2017
1. Meat Heart
2. It Might Be
3. Circle Girl
4. Your Skin Won’t Hide You
5. Digging The Sky
7. Let it Fall