Its hard to exist in the underground metal scene and not hear about the great things coming out of Denver, CO. Across the spectrum of metal, bands like Khemmis, Glacial Tomb, Primitive Man, and Blood Incantation, as well as labels like Dark Descent Records, are making the Rocky Mountain city a haven for metal fans. Among this new contingent is Spectral Voice, a band who has been content, until now, to gather attention through a steady series of splits and EP’s. Now the band is set to release their debut full-length Eroded Corridors of Unbeing and capitalize on that momentum.
Three of the four members of Spectral Voice also come from the ranks of the aforementioned Blood Incantation, the outlier being drummer and vocalist Eli Wendler. I realize its bad form to start off a review by comparing the act in question to others, even if those acts are related, but here I only do this to impress upon you the astonishing level of musicianship present among this roster. Blood Incantation and Spectral Voice have produced two wildly different takes on death metal: Blood Incantation’s take is nimble and technical, and Spectral Voice’s is lumbering and weighty. Both bands, different as they are, execute their craft flawlessly. There seems to be no nuance of death metal that these performers cannot handle, and handle in such a way that their efforts rival those of the bands whose influences they draw from.
Eroded Corridors is an album of all around smart songwriting. The five tracks on this album are looming slabs of death doom, alternating between gloomy ambiance and roiling death metal riffs. The results are simple, but effective, focusing on straight ahead riffs that put the somber melodies front and center, and augmenting the doom passages with a few choice vocal and guitar effects. Even the instrumental centerpiece of the album, “Lurking Gloom” could have functioned just as well with vocals, but the choice to let the contrast between the ringing guitar lines and fast-paced rhythm work shine provides one of my favorite moments on this album.
It is the contributions of Wendler, though, that really makes Spectral Voice what it is, and what makes Eroded Corridors such an experience for me. The drum work found within is spectacular; Wendler knows exactly when to lean into the big riffs and when to pull back and let the ambiance take over, and the light touches he adds during the more textural parts contribute majorly to the sepulchral feel of the album. In addition, his vocal work is impressive, especially considering that this is the first Spectral Voice release Wendler performs vocals for. There is no question as to who is captaining this ship, and under Wendler’s leadership, the rest of the band locks in to deliver monstrous grooves and titanic doom metal.
For a band with such a previously brief discography, it is easy to dismiss the hype that surrounded Spectral Voice as unwarranted, yet those with ears to hear could recognize the potential in this band immediately. For anyone who still has anything to say to the contrary, Eroded Corridors of Unbeing is here to put those doubts in the grave. This is far and away one of the best releases I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing all year, and certainly my favorite death metal album of 2017.