Written by Kep
Devoid of Thought – Outer World Graves
Death metal from Lombardy, Italy
Releasing August 27 via Everlasting Spew Records
Do you go bonkers for Blood Incantation? Do you drool over Demilich? Trip out for Tomb Mold? Cream yourself for Chthe’ilist??
Sorry, that got a little vulgar. I started thinking about spacey, eldritch death metal and blacked out for a second. I’m glad you stuck around though, because fuck me sideways do I have a beast of an album to share with you. If you flip for the bands I mentioned, then get ready to lose your shit for Devoid of Thought’s debut LP Outer World Graves.
Hailing from Lombardy, Italy, Devoid of Thought is a four-piece that has been mostly under the radar, with a catalogue to this point of just two demos and a few splits with primarily repeat songs from the demos. Don’t let that turn you off, though, because this band is about to take the metal world by storm. They play a killer brand of horrifying cosmic death metal, the kind that is unmistakably cut from the same cloth as the music of Demilich and Blood Incantation. Gritty OSDM riffs churn side by side with cacophonous explosions of dissonant otherworldly chromatics. Stygian death growls, a hefty bottom end, and intricate yet ruthless drum patterns lay out a violent soundscape. Unearthly atmospheric effects and empty tomb production enhance the spacey feel of the whole package. It’s a delightful combination that feels just familiar enough to be grounded despite the Lovecraftian dread infiltrating every crevice.
But let’s get this straight: Devoid of Thought may reside in the same musical galaxy as other well-known bands, but they’ve got their own sound and they’re clearly not trying to imitate anyone. They’re not quite as proggy or psychedelic as Blood Incantation, but they’re doomier, and the production is thicker and more cavernous (although not so murky as, say, this year’s Universally Estranged release). Their songs are a little more tightly composed, too; guitarists Lorenzo Gagliardi and Andrea Collaro get real mileage out of their riffs and motifs even when the tracks are lengthy. They’ve got loads of that odd Nespithean technicality, but Devoid of Thought lean more to the brutal side than Demilich even though Collaro’s vocals aren’t as deep and belchy as Antti Boman’s. Think of Devoid of Thought as a kind of cousin to bands that you probably already love, and know that that means you’re gonna love them too.
Outer World Graves is 5 tracks and 41 minutes long, and it’s such a tour de force that the runtime feels way shorter. “Perennial Dream” is the opener, and the beast of a chunky main riff in 5/4 (or 10/8?) that kicks things off is a perfect introduction to what the band does so well. Bursts of discordant twin guitar lines that twist together and bewilder the ear transport you right to another planet. Tracks 2 and 3 are excellent examples of Devoid of Thought’s doom influences: “Four Cerulean Ways” opens with stately yet eerie dissonant counterpoint between the guitars and bass and burns along at a graver pace than the opener. The centerpiece of the album is “Effigies”, a towering 11-minute monolith with an asymmetrical lead riff, an extended death/doom middle section, and spectacular eruptions of spasmodic guitar that sound like the grasping tendrils of some celestial elder being. “Sidereal Necrosis” sees the band splashing in elements of European melodeath and a lengthy blackened passage with incessant blast beats and screaming tremolo, plus a fascinating section in the middle where they gradually speed up the tempo while repeating a syncopated chug. The album closes with “Stargrave”, a track that brings things full circle with violent assymetrical old school riffing and a sepulchral amount of reverberant space.
I don’t think I can oversell how well-written and well-performed Outer World Graves is. I already mentioned that Gagliardi and Collaro get great mileage on their riffs, and their tone is picture perfect: thick and meaty but with a nasty, dangerous sharp edge. Solos are relatively minor part of Devoid of Thought’s songwriting, but they’re technical, rangy, and effective when they do crop up. The rhythm section is imposing as hell: bassist Marek Sollami’s sound is round and massive, and drummer Davide Botturi’s buttery smooth meter and rhythm transitions and wicked quick footwork are the pillars that hold everything else up. Add in a spot on mixing and mastering job by Carlo Meroni to complete a choice package. It’s a pretty insane thought that these guys are only on their first true album release and already playing music that’s this stellar (although it’s probably helpful that the four were previously in a thrash band called Warstorm together before this outfit came into being).
I can’t wait for this one to release and hit all you cosmic deathheads in the ears. We should fully expect to see Outer World Graves hitting top 10 lists around the internet come December. Devoid of Thought will be unleashing their eldritch assault on the world on August 27, and it’s not to be missed.
Favorite track: Effigies