Review Summary: "Alone I Walked Those Paths Towards My Blessed Demise"
If you're an underground black metal fan who hasn't listened to this album, you've been messing up. Released in 2009, Within the Vacuum of Infinity... is the first record from Black Twilight Circle heavyweight Arizmenda, and already a genre classic. Like most BTC-affiliated bands, Arizmenda's sound doesn't reflect the freezing tempest of Scandinavia, but the swallowing spectrum of darkness itself. Arizmenda does this particularly well; musically shattering defenses and lyrically focusing on insanity, Within The Vacuum... is your mental breakdown set to a black metal soundtrack.
There is a certain denseness to Arizmenda's music that no other black metal band has touched before, or been able to replicate since. Claustrophobic is a term frequently used in black metal, and though it is certainly applicable here, it just doesn't do their sound justice. What they evoke is so much more complex than that. Discordant phrases dance to and fro, their intricacies subtlety woven through the performance in a completely mesmerizing manner. Occasionally, the music will offer reprieve - beams of melody shining through the gloom- only to retreat back behind the impenetrable darkness, leaving nothing but your outstretched hands and thoughts of hope torn from your grasp. Uneasiness builds in your chest and hair stands to attention on the back of your neck when listening to this album - that is the power of Arizmenda's music.
Lyrically, sole member Mordunbad's words are simple, but equally as effecting. In "Drown In The Pains of Consciousness", he spouts, "Drown in the pain of consciousness/I am lost/ I am lost within the seas of my minds disease/Lost within the seas of my minds disease/ Lost."
In reality, those are words that are hard not
to relate to; who hasn't experienced self-doubt and loss of direction in the labyrinth that is our mind? His rhetoric may seem overwrought, but in the context of the song, where waves of dissonance crest and crash upon you, it couldn't be said any better.
I have no qualms whatsoever in stating that Within The Vacuum of Infinity... is one of the best black metal albums ever created. The way it creeps under your skin, latching onto your every insecurity to perpetuate them further is terrifying, but also unfathomably gratifying. Black metal was always meant to make you feel
- whether it was the Arctic temperatures of the second wave, or the sense of mystique embedded in the Les Legions Noires - and Arizmenda unquestionably achieves this throughout record's entirety. They are now the leaders of USBM scene, and if you ever need to remember why, let Within the Vacuum of Infinity be your reminder.