Sepulcros – Vazio

With their first full length (a previous label sampler notwithstanding) the Portuguese Sepulcros show attentiveness to album-shaping, and a careful approach to the craft. Leading with the atmospheric clanks and howling winds of the “Involucro Oco” intro track, they make it clear from the get-go that a heavy and doomy path awaits. Fans of the likes of  Heavydeath and HellLight should pay close attention to this one, because as the album progresses the doom delivers on that initial promise, and then some.

In “Vazio”, the first full song after the intro, as the booming bass chords, slow-beat drums, and rasping vocals come together around acidic guitar lines, the funeral vibes can easily give you goosebumps. Some death metal influence filters in with the higher drum intensity of the breakdowns, balanced by an amplification of the bass and the singing. The band does an excellent job of rolling through assorted ratios of weighty gloom to haunted anger, and while things tend to ride at a slower pace all of the members provide ample demonstration of their skills. Whether that comes through in a sustained texture of guitar distortion, the vocals rising from groaning intonations to devilish rage, or in the drummer nimbly kicking up to quadruple the beats from one measure to the next, it consistently strengthens the songs while organically spotlighting the musicians.

The production is also worth recognition, as the band takes care to make the connections and flow from one song to the next truly feel like part of one long, intertwined passage. The sound effects of the intro, those Halloween-record-like rattled chains and thunderstorm atmospherics, tend to crop back up for these, smoothing transitions while anchoring the overall mood. And with all four of the ‘main’ songs running at least eight minutes, those little rest stops are welcome. From the high death metal rager of “Marcha Funebre” through the twisting feverishness of “Magno Caos”, on through the stripped-down morbid regret turning to fury in “Hecatombe”, Sepulcros keep things top-notch and taut.

As the album rolls to a close with “Humana Vacuidade”, assuming you’ve been sitting and listening with due attention, you’re likely to find yourself releasing a lot of tension that has subtly accumulated over the course of the album. For something which starts off so somberly, it also holds something almost palpably fierce. Damned impressive, and quite a treat. Here’s to Sepulcros getting the recognition they’ve earned with this one.

Sepulcros – Vazio
THE BOTTOM LINE
Fantastic death/doom metal, and staggeringly well-done for a band's debut album.
Reader Rating2 Votes

POSITIVES
Sharp song construction
Great evocation of the varied moods while retaining a unified sense of character
Impressive performances
Attention to how the album as a whole stands.
NEGATIVES
The worry that their next album might not live up to the mark set by this one.

4.5

Gabriel
Gabriel
When he's not digesting cinema (preferably low-budget), wasting time online, or otherwise embarrassing himself, Gabriel can be found working his way through a stack of music to review and taking breaks from the crushing futility of life with the help of comedy. Involved in a number of short-lived musical projects, he now sticks to annual Halloween shows with Mexican Space Train.

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