Squandered potential proves a crueler disappointment than an outright bad effort in many ways especially when so few modern bands even remotely approach the mantle of the greats of the past, and the most recent EP from unfairly described “black metal” act Thantifaxath is as glaring an example of this scenario as one could imagine.
Were the band merely inwardly pitiful, devoid of a unique voice, piecemeal in arrangement or constructed of textures rather than actual melody we would have a clear cut case of the pitfalls of modern metal once again rendering the effort fruitless before the material could even be properly digested, but this is a band that avoids all of those shortcomings and still manages to fall short of greatness despite the command of a wealth of great musical ideas.
Another case of a band aesthetically resembling black metal yet structurally belonging to a different genre, Void Masquerading as Matter seems more promising than most in that it is not post rock with screams, nor is it pop arrangements with minor chord voicings; this is at its core a metal record in that it shows a remarkable amount of restraint in themes explored per song and that a journey is indeed expressed in their presentation. Each song has rarely more than two melodic themes that are explored, and they mutate from minor to major key in shifts from woe to triumph when appropriate, allowing the rhythmic diversity as the songs progress to tell a story that is rewarding through legitimate buildup and climax. This is a successful trait where most modern metal is a wallpaper of characterless gruel. Much of the melodic tension is built through the abrasiveness of chromatic scales as shown in the best death metal, and there is a duality at hand in lively busier passages colliding with the finality of monolithic power chords that sustain to the point of unease. So where does it all go wrong?
Unfortunately, the pretentiousness that clouds a band such as this rarely can leave its most promising efforts unaffected. While Thantifaxath presents material that is more oppressive than depressive, in contrast to their previous release Sacred White Noise, the arrangement of the release on the whole is a depiction of insecurity rather that declaration, and despite being a collection of shockingly good ideas, it resembles a holistic pratfall despite being presented as a monument to chaos. Most songs end in an outro that simply does not belong (the strings at the end of “Self-Devouring Womb” are ham-fistedly juxtaposed aside from being integrated as in At the Gates’ “Within”), and the contrast attempted is puzzling rather than assertive. The unfortunate noisecore passages are too grating to ignore despite occurring with much less frequency than previous efforts, and the modular shifts throughout the songs, although clever, tend to resemble exercises rather than a journey with destination in mind. Concluding the release with a seven minute choir of aimless voices as a title track is a gotcha moment befitting the worst of heavy-handed yet artistically empty composers, and if it is an attempt at catharsis after a commanding musical endeavor in a “Tomhet” kind of way, it fails on every level and could not be more aptly titled.
The frustration of the release lies in that the command of melody here is extremely thoughtful and in its best moments echoes the tonality of Alf Svensson, so with the right amount of discipline this band could actually compose a holistically effective metal release should they forgo the need to enforce storytelling through sharp contrast rather than by extrapolating on related ideas, and likewise if they were to abandon the meandering attempts at atmosphere when the melodic structuring dead ends. Despite its pitfalls, this is an improvement over past releases from this band, and should they release a proper full length following this EP that executes their ideas in a more refined way, Thantifaxath could provide a release that is as intrinsically rewarding as it is superficially dazzling. Hopefully when that time comes, their ambitions won’t get the better of them.
Tags: Black Metal, noisecore, post-metal, thantifaxath
23 thoughts on “Thantifaxath – Void Masquerading as Matter (2017)”
Thank for recommending, this seems to be less smugness than Deathspell Ohmyshit
Now this is a review!
Can’t say I’m tempted to actually listen to this but the review was very well-written and informative.
Great to have you on board, Jerry.
Bonus points awarded for constructive criticism – pointing out what’s not so good AND where there’s room for improvement.
This is good writing! Utterly ruthless, yet generous in its even-handedness. Not descending into gratuitous — wait for it — sadism. We need more of these, and less/none of the Mallrat-style “Thantifaxath should sit in their garage with the engine on and mouth sucking the tailpipe of their Mom’s ’97 Acura.”
Thank you Brett for hiring this guy.
The positive responses to the review are very appreciated, but I wouldn’t say Brett “hired” me- I lurk here enough where when I have time I do want to contribute to the site. My schedule is almost entirely devoid of free time so my efforts here will be rare, but I miss seeing these types of reviews here and given the positive response I will be motivated to contribute more when I can.
Love you, Jerry.
Cover good music, not the shove into a Chinese gas van on sight shit like this. It’s obvious from the cover that this is doing to be some noisy dronecore crap.
Agreed. While there is a place for reviews which are just complete sodomy, those should be used sparingly, repeating and forcing a joke again and again is a surefire way of killing it. Balancing it out by featuring stern reviews of music that isn’t good, but can be salvaged and throwing in reviews which are just shooting the shit for garbage music here and there is what would make me go check out the site as often as I used to.
Now all of you can go fuck off before I shoot a hot load inside your succulent little buttholes. Faggots.
I think you would do well to listen to the embedded track at the very least, if you actually found the review to be interesting and constructively critical.
So you can form your own opinion and all, rather than relying on a template from somebody else whose observations you identify as being reliable because of their method.
Interesting listen – I doubt it’ll hold much longevity for the discerning listener but the nod to Alf Svensson is right on and a melding of this work’s rich albeit fatalistic atmospheric essence with a more rewarding and dynamic sense of melody and contrast (a la The Red In The Sky Is Ours) could yield an ‘album of the year’ level record.
I checked out the sample. What I meant with “actually” listening was devoting the necessary time and focus to absorb it at least to the moderate degree that I can form a valid opinion. If there was more time available, sure. But for now it didn’t grab my interest.
An honest assessment that relies on critical analysis rather than arbitrary character attacks on the musicians. inspite of all the hurt feelings surrounding the comments from disgruntled readers not tolerating shit writing, it seems the criticisms have been taken to heart and there is a return to focusing on quality and editing. Hopefully articles of this quality this will be the standard from here on out.
It’s much more interesting (and educating) to read about why someone doesn’t like something than people just sticking ‘witty’ labels on it. Not the least because the labelling always stronlgy suggests a superficiality of perspective. Chances are that a person who cannot describe a phenomenon in intelligible terms didn’t understand it himself.
Chances are people who often think they are describing a phenomenon in intelligible terms is simply being reductionist and fooling himself (e.g. Materialist Marxism, Jazz ethos, YOU, etc.).
Did somebody kick against your trashcan again?
Haha, all while he’s angrily texting a reply.
Filtering posts composed on mobiles would seem to be a worthwhile noise reduction strategy.
You can tell these guys are poseurs playing worthless poseur garbage within a few seconds to a few minutes of listening. It’s not worth writers’ time to spend hours eviscerating such records as there is an ever-growing amount of them. Ultimately, all of Jerry’s time and effort here was wasted for nothing; the release he wrote about is worthless. TheAntifaFaxMachine will never release a competent metal record, yet alone an exceptional one. You and I both know this.
i think this ep has some good ideas on it but this shit isn’t focused enough to be solid metal. it sounds like they would be good doing straight noise. i think it deserves another spin. thanks for the interesting post.
It’s going to be a new genre of underground metal, most band using avant-garde techniques are just pretend to be complicated, instead of expressing content through music itself. Thantifaxath is not one of them.
The new technique is a good thing, we should intoxicated here.
Hmmm …. now, what do we have here? Sounds like a not overly creative Descending Scales (Peter Green) variation (the bass is almost literally the same) with a generically sounding piano middle part, blastbeats and … tata! …. screamed vocals, just so much mixed down that this doesn’t jump out anymore. A similar scale movement is used on The Red In The Sky Is Our but there, it’s used a coloration of a metal track, not as building block. So maybe, if this is all mixed down somewhat more and some death metal riffs added to it, we’d get a sort-of death metal?
One can presumably call this post black metal if being nice to it but the blast beats don’t make this anymore black metal than the prog rock chord variations make it prog rock or the screamed vocals hardcore. This is just bits and pieces of all of this in a primitive stew.
Good review, boring album
What do you think about the previous release, Sacred white noise?
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