Last fall we had the opportunity to premiere a song from Devoted To Nothingness, the new EP by the Greek black metal band Sorgelig. The EP was eventually released in January, digitally and in a limited cassette tape edition. I had intended to write more about the EP following our premiere, and now (finally), I will. The delay is not all bad, because we’re now only days away from the release of a 12″ vinyl edition of Devoted To Nothingness by Iron Bonehead Productions (it’s due on May 3rd).
Sørgelig, who share three members with another band we’ve written about before (Isolert), released their first EP in 2017 (Forever Lost) and then an excellent debut album (Apostate) in the spring of last year. This new EP (which includes 8 tracks) represents a few changes.
First, while Sorgelig‘s four-man line-up remains intact, the EP is the creation of only two of those members — vocalist Odious and multi-instrumentalist N.D. Second, as compared to the music on Apostate (for example), this revised recording line-up has chosen to channel their hatred and malice toward life through a more raw and lo-fi expression of black metal — though they have not abandoned some of the key ingredients that made their debut album so seductive.
“Die In Vain“, the track we premiered last fall and the one that opens the EP after a mood-setting and appropriately sinister intro, is in some obvious ways intentionally hard on the ears. The distortion on the guitars is toxic, flesh-abrading, and brain-scorching. The vocal shrieking is no less incinerating in its effect on tender auditory organs. The drums are nearly submerged in that all-enveloping sonic mutilation; here, it is the vibrancy of the bass that provides the more prominent rhythmic drive.
And yet, as the song unfolds, alternating between roiling ecstasies of violence and more gloomy and dismal movements, the music burns and gleams with arcane fire. Especially in the slower parts of the song (when impassioned cries spear out from the music in place of the caustic shrieking), the reptilian melody becomes sublime and mesmerizing, achieving a fascinating hypnotic effect despite the malformed and malefic quality of the vibrations that shroud the song as a whole.
“Die In Vain” encapsulates a fundamental dichotomy that’s found in all of the remaining tracks. On the one hand, the music is unflinchingly raw and uncomfortable — especially in the case of the vocals, a cacophony of unhinged screaming and howling that sound like a man whose flesh is being torn apart by a thousand pincers. In the fullness of its fury, the riffing is feverish and piercing. The guitar wails in misery and becomes bacchanalian in its crazed, whirling fieriness. When the hammering rhythm section pulls back, settling into less chaotic cadences, the melodies only become more wretched and hopeless.
And on the other hand, the music is seditiously seductive. There is a hallucinatory quality to the music, weird and wounded in its gloominess, and unearthly in its hysteria. It would go too far to call the music entrancing — it’s way too caustic and unnerving — but there is still something mystical about the atmosphere, even if it is a blood-freezing kind of eeriness that envelops the senses.
The closing triptych of tracks made an especially deep impression on this writer. “Descend To Nothingness” is exactly like what its title portrays — a descent into an even deeper abyss of despair and madness than what has preceded it on the EP (which is saying something). The slow, utterly hopeless chords and the crash and pound of cymbals and drums create a ravaging dirge that becomes the backdrop for a display of truly shattering vocal extremity. The follow-on track, “We Shall Be Forever Blind” pitches us back into full-throttle madness, while the closing instrumental (the only voice being one final goblin shriek), “Eclipse“, is otherworldly; still coated with abrasion, the guitar and bass picking, backed by a shimmer of ambient sound has a haunting resonance.
N.D. has commented about what drove the creation of the new EP: “Everything is nothing. Conceived with the utter most hate, we are Devoted to Nothingness.” And after you listen to this, that devotion can’t be questioned.
The press materials recommend the EP for fans of Vlad Tepes, Mütiilation, and especially Belketre. As mentioned, Iron Bonehead will release it on vinyl this coming Friday. It’s still available digitally through Sorgelig’s Bandcamp.