As the field of black/death metal grows more crowded and more bands are bent on creating vibes of total destruction with their music, it’s easier as a listener to become desensitized to the blastbeating, the churning tempest of ugly riffs, and the bestial vocals. As is the trend with any sound that is on an upward trajectory to popularity, the gems of blackened death metal must be dug out from the bottom, underneath all of the hype and crafted press releases. Malaysian one-man project Voidnaga‘s first demo, simply titled Demo MMXVI, hardly carries the usual connotation of a “demo” — it is an absolute bulldozer of a release with potent songcraft that, although not earning points for originality, is more than sufficient to please listeners with it ritualistic ugliness.
Firmly entrenched in the darkest muck that combines aspects of doom, death, and black metal, the sound that Voidnaga offers on this four-song collection is a primal, visceral sledgehammer that relies on its downtuned riffs –– bearing the mark of Blasphemy, Conqueror, and Archgoat –– to create a stark, orthodox atmosphere. The old-school influence is worn proudly in the grimy guitar tone and monolithic wall of overdriven bass, but the production is fittingly clear, and the drums are mixed perfectly with a subtle reverb that doesn’t obscure the excellent playing, full of rolling double bass and tasteful fills. “Haze Bore Darkness” is particularly impressive, as the old-school, minor-key black metal riffs combine with blast beats that alternate with explosive crashes, intricate ride patterns, and excellently placed fills that add to the feeling of controlled chaos. Mainman Adlan’s vocals are seated somewhat low in the mix but no less present with a low, raspy growl and a skin-shredding shriek that occasionally pierces the air. It’s an entrancing listen, even if its relatively one-sided approach leaves little in the way of distinction, although “Emanated Light Toward Chaos” stays in a crushing doom mode for part of its runtime. There is an otherworldly, ritualistic palpableness to the whole demo, and that is what makes it so compelling in its decidedly short runtime.
If this is merely a demo, then gird your loins for the full-length, because it will be savage enough to create black holes. Fans of blackened death metal, take note. This needs to be on your radar.