Void Masquerading as Matter
24th November 2017 – Dark Descent Records
01. Ocean of Screaming Spheres
02. Self Devouring-Womb
03. Cursed Numbers
04. Void Masquerading as Matter
After three years of radio silence, elusive Canadian black metal trio Thantifaxath have returned with a follow-up EP to their outstanding debut album Sacred White Noise. Wielding dissonant, sinister guitar harmonies, wailing strings, pummelling drums and shrieked vocals than hold an undeniable spectral presence, they crafted a unique and truly haunting sound that placed them a cut above their tired, corpse paint lathered contemporaries.
Despite its short thirty-five minute run time, consisting of four extended, meandering songs, Void Masquerading As Matter builds brilliantly on their previous experimentation, pushing their odd-rhythmic approach and multi-layered guitar work to new heights. The end result is an EP that ruins fluidly as a single chilling, cohesive track. In short, although it is late to surface in the year, Thantifaxath may have just produced the best black metal project of 2017.
Because of its structure as a single continuous piece, it does make it difficult to pick out highlights upon a cursory first listen, but given some time to soak in the overall atmosphere – which is downright unsettling – it becomes apparent that Thantifaxath have gone from strength to strength and are capable of constructing standalone tracks as well as more conceptual pieces. The additional instrumentation they employ on the EP, including piano, walls of reverb drenched strings and even a choral section on the self-titled closing track, act as the atmospheric glue to the project. The moments where these instrumental passages break through provide a needed sonic counterpart to the onslaught of blast beats and tremolo picked riffing, and work perfectly as a transition between tracks. This is particularly the case with the strings at the end of “Self Devouring Womb“, making the intro to “Cursed Numbers” all the more terrifying when the drums and distorted, sustained guitar chords come crashing down, with the spidery, tapped guitar lead descending ominously in the background like blood dripping down a murky bathroom wall.
“Cursed Numbers“ is a definite highlight in the track listing, with some of the wildest cross-rhythmic drumming on the whole project, twinned with jagged riffs that constantly evolve, making the back end of the EP as compelling as the start. The distortion and delay placed on the vocals at the midway break in the track are monstrous and have a slight Dodecahedron twinge to them, especially when you compare it to “Descending Jacob’s Ladder” from their debut album back in 2012. Although the choral closing track on Void Masquerading as Matter stands a little on the long side, the incremental transition it takes from serene, ghostly harmonies to the flat-out wails of lost souls, crying in existential terror, does seem to be a rather fitting conclusion to an incredibly dense, chaotic and menacing modern black metal EP.
Thantifaxath have a solid footing in the outré and rather occult aesthetic of black metal, but their novel approach truly defines them as one of the torch bearers for the genre, which has all too often succumbed to the problem of style over substance. Void Masquerading as Matter is another exceptional addition to their short discography, and will undoubtedly whet the appetite for another full-length album, that will hopefully arrive in the not-too-distant future.