It only takes a quick gaze at the nearest horizon to realise that the experience of seeing pretty much as far as the human eye can ever hope to see in a meaningful way, across whatever diminishing landscape is available nearby, conjures feelings of loneliness and emptiness powerful enough to make an apocalypse seem redundant.
Durance of Lightless Horizons
, the first full-length release from cosmic horror-dabbling bowel evacuators Gutvoid, is a uniquely crafted death metal album which sets out to capture that sense of sublime transience and delivers fully on its thematic goal - distance and hopelessness are evoked recurrently for 52 despairing minutes. Tracks on this album feel incredibly spacious, gaps that might typically be closed by extra notes or fills often linger deliberately between winding leads, labyrinthine grooves and wretched growls to emphasise feelings of loss and despondence.
While the tempos are certainly doomy, the instrumental tone embraces an ironic sense of lightness. The chords here generally appeal to ideas richer and more complex than mere death, and the sprawling leads often depict a sense of terrible beauty. That's not to say there aren't plenty of crushing riffs on Durance…
. such as the trem early in "In Caverns it Lurks", yet even these sections suggest an echo of horrifyingly vast and insurmountable spaciousness. The sound production is necessarily but subtly polished; Durance…
is certainly a cleaner and clearer experience than than the average death metal album but the clarity lends itself excellently to the most aesthetically decisive aspect of each track which is the guitar leads.
The fact that the leads dominate here could be imagined as indulgent but the arrangements, though often long and pummelling, are overall varied and unpredictable. Ideas synopsised by the song titles are regularly embodied by the guitar which punctuates the dutiful lurching low-end of the album incredibly. Some of the leads are frankly cool as fu
ck - like the maddening buildup towards the end of "Coils of Gas-Hewn Filament", or the hypnotic melodies a few minutes into "The One Who Dwells Beyond Time", or the mystically paranoid twangs which punctuate a groove 3 minutes or so into "Wandering Dungeon".
Just like their earlier effort Astral Bestiary
, notable influence from Demilich is apparent particularly in the writhing riffs in the tellingly titled "Delivered to the Altar Lich" and in the vocals midway through "Skeletal Glyph", but their influence is distributed consistently as the kilter of the album alters and contorts subtly. Homage to the Finnish legends in no way compromises the unique sound achieved by Gutvoid, one that can quickly turn a whimsical scenic view into a ruminating thousand-yard-stare.