Thantifaxath: 'Void Masquerading as Matter' EP Review

Hailing from the not-so frozen wastes of Toronto, Canada are the anonymous black metal mystics behind avant-garde outfit Thantifaxath, whose debut Sacred White Noise rightly caused a stir in the metal underground with its opaque textures and bleak soundscapes. Void Masquerading as Matter is their hotly-anticipated second EP - can it deliver the goods or will it be consigned to the bin of not-so sacred white noise?

The easy answer to this question is a resounding yes. First track ‘Ocean of Screaming Spheres’ fires the opening salvo with discordant riffing and atmospheric keys and its halfway point also presents an early highlight in the form of a more ambient, if atonal passage of piano over the guitars followed by a passage of near constant tempo shifts reminiscent more of free jazz than anything else.

The sound Thantifaxath present is chaotic, yet expansive and even include some more progressive tendencies. The band constantly shift between structures, tempos and motifs; despite this, songs sometimes have an almost cyclical structure such as on ‘Cursed Numbers’ which features motifs that are returned to after the occasional harrowing interlude, or ‘Self Devouring Womb’ which features a similar idea but riffs morph and change into something similar.

The vocals are for the most part a relatively standard black metal fare but the rasps are delivered with conviction and emotion. There’s also clear experimentation with nods to more guttural roars, some almost spoken word passages and also hysterical shrieks. Guitars shift constantly between riffs, leaning toward multiple-note complex constructions than typical tremolo riffing. Drums again veer between blastbeats and chaotic, complex fills and almost arrhythmic passages. The biggest departure of all comes in the closing title track which is instead a seven-minute ambient choral piece that progressively (or perhaps that should be regressively) becomes more and more dissonant and has a clear air of foreboding throughout.

Despite the cacophonous and chaotic nature of Void Masquerading as Matter and indeed Thantifaxath’s sound as a whole, songs are clearly structured with a great deal of thought and planning. Ambient passages saturated with tension, foreboding and menace meld seamlessly back into discordant black metal, never once offering reprieve from the deep-seated sense of unease present throughout the record. It’s another stellar release from one of the rising stars of the metal underground, offering something truly unique and enthralling.