Written by Kep
Telluric Effluvium – Voyage of Sentient Decay
Funeral death/doom from Colorado, US
Releasing March 4 via Transylvanian Recordings
In case you haven’t noticed, Denver is a hotbed of extreme metal right now. It’s the home of Blood Incantation, Khemmis, Primitive Man, Allegaeon, and Wayfarer, plus various interrelated side projects like Stormkeep, Black Curse, Glacial Tomb, and Spectral Voice, and a ton of other standouts including Vale of Pnath, Oryx, Headshrinker, Noctambulist, Necropanther, and Of Feather and Bone. Another up-and-coming outfit out of the Mile High City is Telluric Effluvium, a funeral death/doom four-piece whose debut LP, Dissolution of the Threefold Self, came out to relatively little fanfare in 2020.
Telluric Effluvium’s brand of dirgey death/doom is raw and heavy on the distortion, with a production value that feels distinctly old school and isn’t overprocessed. There’s a pseudo-lo-fi charm to it, and its rough edges enhance the substantial death metal influence that’s present in their sound; it did take my ears a bit to adjust after spending a lot of time recently with pure funeral doom bands like Bell Witch and Esoteric, though. The drums are sunk into the texture, meshing with the fuzz of bass distortion and the impermeable body of the guitars, while the vocals growl at the forefront, menacing in breadth and ghastly in their hellish depth. It’s crushing stuff, and it’s only boosted by the band’s frequent uses of lingering cleaner-toned guitar lines that sail dolefully above the morass, often introducing new motifs.
Don’t let anybody tell you that slow shit doesn’t have riffs, because these guys riff HARD. Those riffs make Voyage of Sentient Decay an excellent bridge album for the death metal or death/doom fan who’s looking to explore funeral doom, its desolate dirges always balanced by crushing death riffs and plenty of driving chug. The whole record is just a 38-minute listen, which makes it more easily accessible to many ears than much of the subgenre, and that runtime is tightly focused with next to no fat.
First track “Horrid Visions of the Corrupting Flesh” is the only one that surpasses ten minutes, and it’s a monumental piece of music. The opening two minutes is built on a haunting motif of augmented and minor intervals that paces at a menacingly measured tempo, introduced in a single guitar (in only the left channel, which is oddly disorienting at the start). From there it’s alternating passages of slow death and true funeral doom that periodically morph into one, with chugging grooves a la Mortiferum and eerie dirge melodies that made me think of The Giant-era Ahab. There’s a healthy dose of tremolo-picking in much of the riffing, often to give more forward movement to a line that’s been introduced in more deliberate, cleaner tones; it’s not exactly standard for the style but the effect is tremendous. Telluric Effluvium keep their motifs smartly related, too, tying sections of the track together by evolving the musical ideas rather than just shifting to new ones, adding dual harmonies and subtly morphing the rhythm section. For example, the two appearances of a serious, mournful repeated lick, first as an added line above a driving death/doom riff at about 2:30, then later as the featured piece of a weeping funereal passage around the six-minute mark.
The rest of the record is similarly balanced: “Expository Peeling” is a powerhouse that gets rolling like a chugging locomotive right from the get-go, the lengthier “Asphyxiation Plague” unleashes one of the most satisfying Cerebral Rot-esque slow death riffs of the year so far within the first couple minutes and then juxtaposes it against the poignancy of a melody that would fit right into a Bell Witch track, and interlude “Dissonant Tears” provides an ambient breath of fresh air. 7-minute closer “Liberation Through Cyclical Autophagia” sounds the ominous knell of doom with a massively distorted bass intro, then precedes a gorgeous dual-guitar motif in the vein of Mournful Congregation with a devastating riff that descends into the depths over and over again and begs you to bang your head.
I did notice what struck me as a crutch in Telluric Effluvium’s songwriting: their favored method of introducing a new melody in clean-tone solo guitar and then joining the rest of the band with it is effective a few times but gets a bit repetitive eventually. Voyage of Sentient Decay is a well-written record overall, though, and they accomplish a remarkable number of textures for a straight-up four-piece. Single tracks can run the gamut from menacing to uplifting, dreamy to viscerally ugly, and the blended funeral doom and death/doom riffage manages to be both hefty and flexible.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Fans of funeral doom will unquestionably be rewarded for giving their ears to Telluric Effluvium’s sophomore effort. It’s visceral and satisfying, with devastating heaviness and all the sorrowful melodic material that you’d hope for. Death/doom and death metal fans who haven’t yet fallen in love with the dirgey stuff, though, are the demographic that’s most likely to be blown away by this effort. Take Telluric Effluvium’s hand and let Voyage of Sentient Decay be your bridge to the more despondent side of metal.