Headbanging through your existential crisis
Let’s skip the discourse concerning whether Thantifaxath are a “true black metal entity” or not and get right down to discussing Toronto’s best blackened Mr. Bungle worship band. Almost four years after the release of their debut full-length, Sacred White Noise, the nameless trio hit us with three new songs of warped and surreal blackish prog metal, peppered with effective, sometimes truly augmentative interludes, and a seven-and-a-half-minute closer of some a cappella singing performed by what sounds like an all-female choir, though I’m loath to presume. All this in 35 minutes, with the final/title track totally closing the loop on you. Sirening you back into the first song.
“Ocean of Screaming Spheres” opens Void Masquerading as Matter with a lenticular Escherian riff that detonates in all directions once the drums, bass and vocals kick in, only to focus back into itself as fast as T-1000 de-obliterating. The energy is supernova, the drums fill out the riffs like some kind of laser-strewn galactic skirmish. Then, four minutes in, everything drops out. Makes way for a rather shy piano part. They’re tricksters, these prog guys.
The following track, “Self Devouring Womb,” offers a more pensive vibe, keeping the fusillade of blasts at bay in favor of stranger beats, sometimes tribal, sometimes jazzy. Swamped in synths and uncharacteristically straight-forward, “SDW” is Thantifaxath’s idea of a catchy song. But they remain at their most potent when they’re shredding impossible riffs, as in “Cursed Numbers.” Introduced by the acoustic guitar/violin outro to “SDW,” “Cursed Numbers” is the obvious finisher. Where those evil circus riffs are at their most sinister, the tension is at its most repressed. And, man, Thantifaxath really know when and precisely how to release that tension.