Deeper Than Sky

Even deeper than pie in the sky

dB Rating: 8/10

Release Date: October 23rd, 2015
Label:  Profound Lore

When it comes to VHÖL’s songwriting preferences, speed is more important than history. This would hardly be a problem, except VHÖL is a supergroup, which, of course, sets up expectations based on past work. So, anyone hoping to for a hint of the spiritmetal balladry of vocalist Mike Scheidt’s work in YOB—or the blackened syncopation of guitarist John Cobbett and drummer Aesop Dekker’s work in Ludicra—is in for a surprise.

Even by the standards of VHÖL’s self-titled debut, Deeper Than Sky’s opener, “The Desolate Damned,” just seems really fucking fast. Dekker pounds out a furious dog-paddle beat that is his go-to rhythm in this band, while Cobbett and VHÖL’s fleet-fingered bassist, Sigrid Sheie, race to keep up. Anyone who thinks that this panmetallic intensity will relent after the opener hasn’t heard the first VHÖL album. 

While the 2013 debut was fast, but same-y, Deeper Than Sky is populated with dynamic shifts and psychedelic colors. Perhaps the best example of this is the 12-minute title track, which boasts a gorgeous mid-tempo section—replete with massed vocals and soaring guitars—as well as a Boléro-style breakdown at the end of the track. That this tune is followed by the Cecil Taylormeets-Discharge experimentation of “Paino” should make clear that VHÖL are not afraid of stretching out.

Plus, this album just sounds great—much clearer than the debut—which means you can hear every one of Cobbett’s thrashy overdubs. No sophomore slump here: Deeper Than Sky is an improvement in every way. 

—Brent Burton
Review originally printed in the November 2015 issue (#133).