Predatory Void – Seven Keys to the Discomfort of Being

*** Go to our YouTube channel in the link below to see the video review of this record in episode #30 of the SBR Album of the Week.


The Belgian city of Ghent in East Flanders is one of the most fertile scenes in the world for heavy music. Look at the bands that emerged from this part of Europe since the early 2000s – Amenra, Oathbreaker, Wiegedood. All three are leaders in their genres and household names in underground extreme metal. Guitarist in the first two, Lennart Bossu, is at the centre of this movement along with his Amenra bandmates, Mathieu J. Vandekerckhove and Colin H. Van Eeckhout. The latter two formed the post-metal supergroup, Absent in Body, with members of Neurosis and Sepultura during the Covid lockdowns. Bossu used the quarantine to compose new songs with a new band in mind. That band is Predatory Void, and you’ll now understand why they release their debut album via Century Media. They have the credentials and the fight inside to unmuzzle their frustrations and thrust them onto a world that cares nothing for the underdog.

You might call Predatory Void a supergroup, but the criterion for joining the collective revolves around one factor. Do the members live within driving distance of each other? Drummer, Vincent Verstrepen, plays in the Season of Mist death metal quartet, Carnation. Co-guitarist, Thijs de Cloedt, made his name in Aborted. Vocalist, Lina R, is Russian-born and earns her living as a tattoo artist. This disparate but singular-focused assembly of people explains why Predatory Void are such a fascinating proposition. It’s easy to call their art extreme metal, but the variations of sludge, hardcore, blackened death metal and post-metal will leave you with no time to be confused but plenty of room to release the anguish building up inside you.

The intro to opener, ‘Grovel’, hovers in a lingering sludge metal marsh but soon gears up to a black metal sortie with a nasty guitar tone and a ritual of self-loathing screams. Fuck, this is heavy. Lina R alternates between hardcore roars and black metal lung projections. Listen how sporadic grooves work their way through the music like sepsis. The noise and filth of the distortion are menacing enough to leave you with tinnitus. Do you feel your mouth making silent hissing shapes as the muddy down-picking guitars threaten to jump out of the speakers?

It soon becomes clear that Lina R’s brooding introspection is the defining mood of this record. Her emotional state feeds on anguish and aggression, like an extreme foreboding that one could misdiagnose as neurosis. You’ve got to love a song like ‘*(struggling…)’, which starts with a naked roar and ends in a frenzy of unpleasant death metal after five minutes of dynamic disruption and latent voice melodies. ‘Endless Return to the Kingdom of Sleep’ thrives on a discordant doom metal sequence and allows the Russian vocalist to explore the textures of her anxious contralto voice as if rehearsing the right words for the confession box. Her bandmates do their best to keep her and the listener guessing where they’ll appear next. Credit must go to the drummer for forcing his way to the front of the mix with sporadic blast beats, violent drum fills and double-kick rotations. It’s hostile but it’s also self-absorbed, like Conjurer at their best. The high-reverb folk meditation of ‘Seeds of Frustration’ is a welcome respite from the collapsing slag heap that you know will crush you in the next song.

There’s no doubt that Seven Keys to the Discomfort of Being lives up to its title. The seven tracks here offer few glimpses of hope. This is the sound of isolated misery from a person cut off from all human relations. Dutch post-metal quintet, Throwing Bricks, operate in a similar paradigm of existence. Lina’s bark and bite on ‘Shedding Weathered Skin’ will remind you of Larissa Stupar of Venom Prison. The guitarwork of Lennart Bossu and Thijs de Cloedt on ‘Funerary Vision’ captures the primal rage of Oathbreaker but aims for a more technical route to reach its bludgeoning outcome. Drum accents keep you in suspense when your shoulders loosen for a regular beat. Mid-to-high range guitar harmonies ache with a glowing bravery. Every battle won is another challenge to stay alive for the next day. Temporary moments of calm rumination leave you with the body armour to prepare for a tidal wave of crippling black metal and a climactic realisation of post-metal despair.

Predatory Void know their creative process will achieve greater refinement as they develop, but their transcendent rage and willingness to push their resilience to breaking point are what make their debut album so special.

JVB


Verdict


Release Date: 21/04/2023

Record Label: Century Media

Standout tracks: Grovel, Endless Return to the Kingdom of Sleep, Shedding Weathered Skin

Suggested Further Listening: Conjurer – Pathós (2022), Absent in Body – Plague God (2022), Throwing Bricks – The Burden (2022)