Voiceless visions vary, with highly variable results. Subtracting the vibrations of a human larynx doesn’t diminish the appeal of most orchestral compositions or of jazz, for example (though solemn choirs enhance a requiem, and the smoky sultriness of a soulful voice brings dimensions of sound that a saxophone can’t capture). But in genres of extreme metal, entirely instrumental performances seem to face special challenges. It’s not immediately clear why this should be so — after all, a voice is just another instrument of sound, and usually a harsh and ugly one in our circles — but the absence of such assaulting sensations seems to leave a void that many instrumental performers have difficulty filling, leaving the attention of listeners to wander.
On the other hand, the music of the instrumental Belarusian band Essence of Datum leaves no noticeable void at all. To the contrary, it might not go too far to say that the addition of vocals to their music would be a subtraction — an unwanted intrusion that might prove to be a distraction and a diminution of their achievements. That’s quite a testament to their powers, especially because this duo are firmly rooted in the extremity of death metal rather than feeling compelled to layer in symphonic excesses or indulge in meandering proggy diversions as a way of filling the voiceless void.
Essence of Datum‘s success in surmounting the challenges identified above led to their signing earlier this year by Season of Mist, who will release the band’s new album Spellcrying Machine on August 30th. How they achieved that success is not fully revealed on any single song; listening to the entire album provides the best answer. But the first single we’re bringing you from the album today through an attention-grabbing performance video — “Pendulum” — is certainly a great introduction to the album’s manifold attractions. Continue reading »