Ævangelist have been at the forefront of a wave of chaotic and dismally seductive death metal since their first full release in 2012. Some of their other releases have been a little more variable but at its best the band can turn on its sinister vortex to pull you into its cold and hollow hole without you even realising. More black metal than black metal at times, even though this is clearly of a slightly different and thunderous breed. The absolute discordant madness seems to divide opinion sometimes but to these ears Omen Ex Simulacra was a work of sheer black magic. However, each release probably needs to be taken on its own merit such is the lightless and challenging path so fans should excuse me when I say – this is not the easiest of listens.
In fact Enthrall to the Void of Bliss may well be one of the band’s ugliest and unsettling works to date with the dissonant and at times almost jazzy Arcanæ Manifestia kicking off with a queasy riff before settling into one of the band’s almost frameless cacophonies. If you’re still with us after listening to that – and I suspect a good 98 per cent of common-all-garden metal fans would not be – then the good news is that the going gets a little less tough after that – like the victim of a torture garden sent to the local hospital for just enough time to get a blood transfusion and return to the scene of pain.
Fourth track Gatekeeper’s Scroll is where the band provides you with enough breathing space to judge your predicament and to look back at the horror you’ve just been though. In fact, you might even feel like giving yourself a pat on the back for making it this far. But this is where the horrific beauty of Ævangelist’s hypnotic effect really settles in. From then the album really finds its pace striking out into drone, horrifically serrated blackened death metal and some crushingly grating melodies that are so repellent and grotesque they actually have the opposite effect. Drawing you in like an infectious tractor beam into a palpitating, suppurating death star.
Because the spillage of notes that issues forth from Ævangelist’s nightmarish horror show is more than just being trapped in a room with some demented genius or someone showing off to prove a point. It’s a demonstration of something which, musically at least, is likely to make the average person recoil like they might from a maggot strewn corpse. But like every maggot strewn corpse (I imagine – I’ve never seen one unless you could the odd hedgehog or various species of road kill) the beauty may not be in the enjoyment of it but the fascination of seeing something truly dark and uncontrollable right before your very eyes.
There are a few bands like Ævangelist which, if you can last the distance, briefly open the door to something unspeakably awful. The band, with all it’s various references, might well say Lovecraftian. And I would agree with that. Enthrall to the Void of Bliss may not be my favourite Ævangelist effort so far but for sheer repellent insanity it’s hard to fault. Loathsome and hideous from start to finish. It was Lovecraft that once said ‘The most merciful thing in the world is the inability of the human mind to correlate all it’s contents’. Which probably nicely sums up the problem and the fascination with Ævangelist’s Enthrall to the Void of Bliss. Words, frankly, are not enough.
(8.5/10 Reverend Darkstanley)