Nothing but the Whole

Written by: MST on 02/09/2014 00:36:06

These days in metal, the average level of originality from bands you actually hear a word from is quite miniscule. Granted, music doesn't have to be innovative to be good, but once you get through the 30th or 40th quality death metal band that differs only subtly from the pack, you start to hunger for something different. Something fresh. Something that sounds familiar enough for most people to relate to it somewhat while also bringing a completely new ingredient to the mix, or perhaps just a new way to approach a certain sound. Enter "Nothing but the Whole", the fourth album by the Belgian metal act Emptiness who have flirted with black metal and other genres in varying degrees throughout their 16 years of existence. The individual parts of the sound of this album are all well known, but this specific mix has caught me by surprise.

At its core, "Nothing but the Whole" is a blackened death metal album with strong hints at doom metal, which ventures into progressive territories often enough to make the album quite unpredictable for the first couple of listens. The riffs consist mostly of distorted tremolos drenched in a slick, yet appropriately dense production, and in conjunction with the growled vocals this doesn't sound much different than your average blackened death metal record. The big difference is the usage of the drums: mostly slow to mid tempo, they somehow enable the riffs to sound groovy, and at times even relaxing. Add odd breaks into ambient sections, various samples and what seems like an aim to compose storytelling music instead of settling for your average brutal sound, and you've got an idea of what the album sounds like.

As is also the case with Triptykon, which is the only proper comparison for the sound on "Nothing but the Whole", the foundation of the entire soundscape is a darkness that slowly creeps out from beneath the wall of tremolos, helped on its way by some deliciously abstract lyrics. As "Go And Hope" opens up slowly with almost confusing hints at both menace and hopeless melancholy, it sets the mood perfectly for "Nothing But The Whole" to treat the listener to traveling from the depths of the void to the highest peaks. Quieter moments lull the listener into thinking that the darkness has gone away before a climax enters with repeated lyrics that stay in the back of your mind. The album's highlight has to be "All Is Known", a progressive track that strangely calms the listener, as if to deceive its prey into thinking that all is well. The wall of sound is lifted at first only to reveal that the emptiness resides even behind the fog in the horizon.

Ultimately, describing an album that differs from others in such a unique way has proven as difficult as the album has been continuously enjoyable. I keep finding new things to enjoy about the band's sound; it's sort of a less-is-more type of album, because while it may contain less layered noise than your average blackened death metal album, the intricate ways in which similar techniques and composition create very different feelings throughout the album is extremely satisfying. "Nothing but the Whole" is an inspiring album for those who desire something truly fresh. Quench your thirst and delve into the whole.

Download: Go And Hope, Nothing But The Whole, All Is Known
For The Fans Of: Triptykon, Abyssal, Blut Aus Nord
Listen: Facebook

Release date 27.05.2014
Dark Descent Records

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