Voidgazer – Dance of the Undesirables


Remember the name Voidgazer and keep it in the back of your mind for the next time somebody says modern metal is uninspiring and bereft of ideas. The Missouri quartet call their music ‘biker prog’ but you only need to know one thing – Dance of the Undesirable is a five-course fusion of the entire spectrum of rock and metal from blues to grindcore. If that sounds incongruous and messy, that’s because it’s rough around the edges and coated in a sludgy guitar tone to enhance the charm. Voidgazer are four dudes with a pious devotion to the metal gods and a love of the open road.

You might wonder what decade we’re in when you hear the opening notes of ‘Jesus Take the Needle’. It may start like Van Halen playing a Diamond Head riff in standard tuning, but don’t be fooled by the 1980s’ time machine. You soon realise that the action on the middle strings is a trick to suck you into the sludge-heavy distortion of the bottom end groove. The blood-thirsty vocal inflections of Omar Olivares II (yep, that’s his name) will make your eyes water, like a biting frost seeping into your tear ducts as you try to turn away. It’s as if the band went through the “filthy fifteen” songs chosen by the PMRC for corrupting America’s morals in 1985 and updated everything on there with a monstrous assault of extreme metal on top. The Sepultura breakdown at 03:47 seconds gives way to the most extravagant rock showmanship this side of Angus Young while you’re still asking the question: “What is biker prog?”

No answer is forthcoming on ‘Expectations Management’. Instead, the band treat us to a raucous combination of 70s hard rock and obnoxious blackened thrash. Yes, Entombed, Convulse and Carcass all experimented with this fusion in the past, but none of them sounded as violent as this or as enamoured with the neck pulsating distortion of sludge metal. Add in a nod to the same chord progression as Killing Joke’s ‘Twilight of the Mortal’ in the middle section and you have a song that refuses to be pinned down to any genre. Again, Olivares II seethes like somebody fighting off an assailant who has him pinned to a car headrest with a garrote wire. Only the epic moments on the new Urne album can rival it for power and attitude.

When Voidgazer do heavy metal, they do it in style and with the spirit of Venom. Technical speed metal is an oxymoron if we use Motörhead as the definition of the proto-thrash genre, but the title track aims for Led Zeppelin’s prowess and Obituary’s menace with the destructive posturing of the latest Vulture record. Wait until you experience the orgasm of the wah-wah blues solo with no overdubs and only the bass and drums keeping time. This could be Vernon Reid of Living Colour wielding his plectrum against the strings in a fast alt-picking motion! The cascading folk guitars of ‘Blast Equalizer’ are just as enthralling. Here they mix dissonant chords with chromatic riff progressions and gruff death metal shrieks over a closing cameo of stoner metal fuzz.

We said at the beginning that the Missourians go as far as grindcore in their extreme metal tastes, and they don’t even bother to flirt with the fun feast of pentatonic rock on closing track, ‘Sexual Sadist Serial Slasher’. This one is an unadulterated mix of Bolt Thrower and Napalm Death with a morbid helping of doom posturing. To call this heavy is an understatement. Jesus Christ! The low bass rumbles and thick guitar distortion could cause a minor earthquake. It might be tongue-in-cheek in humour, but the audio bludgeoning is no joke. We should be afraid if modern bikers listen to Voidgazer’s concoction of extreme-metal-cum-stadium rock instead of ZZ Top and Thin Lizzy.

Which brings us back to the question of biker prog. What is it? Er… Who knows, but if Voidgazer use this to describe their art, who are we to disagree? Death & Roll this is not. The thought of reading the lyric sheet is too terrifying to contemplate right now.

JVB


Verdict


Release Date: 27/08/2021

Record Label: Self Released

Standout tracks: Jesus Take the Needle, Dance of the Undesirables, Sexual Sadist Serial Killer

Suggested Further Listening: Convulse – Reflections (1994), Urne – Serpent & Spirit (2021), Metallica – Reload (1997)