Today is the release date (through Solitude Productions) for the debut EP, self-titled, of the German band Voidhaven, whose line-up includes members of Crimson Swan and Ophis — and it proves to be a masterful interweaving of traditional doom metal and doom-death that plumbs depths of hopelessness and misery yet has the capacity to send the heart soaring.
Voidhaven is now available for listening through YouTube and Bandcamp streams that we can share with you. It consists of two songs of approximately nine minutes apiece — long enough to cast powerful and lingering spells, but not too long, never risking a fall into monotony.
A beautiful, lilting guitar instrumental, leavened by the lush but mournful sound of strings, creates a mist-shrouded ambience at the outset of “The Floating Grave”, and then slow drum detonations and giant stalking chords, combined with moaning leads and a somber yet soaring clean voice, create a thoroughly mesmerizing effect. As the song progresses, another segment is introduced, in which a sense of mounting tension comes through the craggy riffing, and cavernous harsh vocals send shivers down the spine. There is a space of silence, but for the slow pulse of a solo bass, which provides the basis for a sequence of ravaging chords, thunderous drum blows, and catastrophic vocals that together convey a mood of terrible calamity, before the band reprise some of the preceding segments of this desolate yet soulful song.
Another guitar duet, with harsh whispers, opens “Beyond the Bounds of Sleep“, but the mood here is more uneasy and foreboding than the intro to the first track on the EP — and the song as a whole manifests as a looming, mountainous presence, daunting and inhospitable. The huge chords sound magisterial yet merciless, the drumming impacts with bone-breaking force, and the harsh howls convey wrenching agony.
In this song the clean vocals come second rather than first, and they are beautifully heart-breaking, accompanied by an alluring lead that assists in creating a cold yet soaring melodiousness. The sounds of strings, both deep and lugubrious and high and shimmering, accompanied only by drum and bass, provide a bridge into a transformation of the song into music that’s funereally slow and utterly sunken in lightless depths of misery, the vocalist’s terrible roars and fracturing howls channeling obliterating pain. When the clean vocals return for a final time, they express a haunting lament that’s hard to get out of your head when the song ends.
In sum, this is a very impressive start for a new band, and a compelling reason to hope for much more from Voidhaven in the future.