Review Summary: The downward path
Formed in 2017, with an EP and split over their belt, Minnesota's death doomers Void Rot entered 2020 as an emerging force within the genre. Their sound signature is somewhat similar to Spectral Voice, operating through a simple, minimalist approach, more focused on creating immersive ambiences than shaping hysterically violent moments. And although this stylistic approach looks easy on paper, due to its almost absent technical component, only a handful of bands can perform it masterfully. Building on such a minimalist foundation requires less rationality and more emotional focus, a bit like listening to your heart instead of your head. Well, Void Rot meet these aesthetic requirements reasonably well, yet it remains to be seen whether their songwriting output matches their stylistic concept.
Musically, the band regularly uses sustained power chords, which are combined with high-gain cleans and tremolo picking. The opener 'Descending Pillars' immediately mirrors this formula, being a faithful introduction to the album's aesthetics. The simplicity present in the title track is transversal to all songs (including the introductory instrumental 'The Weight of a Thousand Suns'), thus placing the band in the aforementioned minimalist Spectral Voice-esque niche. As expected, the band uses mostly slow tempos, occasionally interrupted by faster transitions, which never explode into blast beats. Songs such as the opener, 'Delusions of Flesh', 'Liminal Forms' and 'Monolith' are the ultimate expression of an album that never truly leaves its comfort zone. It seems somewhat unfair to mention this homogeneity, when it comes to a death doom approach not exactly known for its diversity or stylistic adventures, however, I believe Void Rot's songwriting still has room to evolve and ensure greater unpredictability, especially in the riff department. Despite the absence of greater contrasts, Descending Pillars
is still an accomplished work, as it effectively represents an antagonistic attitude towards a more technical approach to death metal. I also cannot fail to highlight the powerful deep gutturals and solid drumming which, despite being too high in the mix, plays an important role in the script, particularly the hit-hat dynamics that proliferate throughout the album.
Going back to first paragraph's open question, I would say that Void Rot is halfway there. If, on the one hand, the band has a consistent minimalist DNA, on the other, it has not yet reached the stage of maturation that allows them to aim for genre's pole positions. To achieve that, the Minnesota lads will need to improve their songwriting skills and acquire a personal, distinctive identity. That being said, Descending Pillars
should not be ignored, since it solidly mirrors an attitude that should be cherished and preserved, as it represents one of Heavy Metal's primordial foundations: The downward path.