VacivusOriginally released earlier in the year on cassette, comes five tracks of “total death”, courtesy of Sunderland’s Vacivus, a band whose members’ previous acts have included Wodensthrone and Plague Rider.

Now given a CD release from Hellthrasher Productions, ‘Rite of Ascension’ was recorded live and mixed in one day.

Such an execution can yield a pretty decent result. Sure, you may not get those “Mutt” Lange-style production values, but the original intent of a band and their material can come across just as well, maybe more so.

All the instrumentation here stands out admirably, with the bass sounding unusually audible throughout the grim proceedings, and bubbling away nicely under the chaos of 23 minutes of blackened death metal. (Marking out a more intriguing sound than the traditional death sonics of their previous incarnation as Dawn Of Chaos).

So, with no flashy production techniques to fall back on, the tracks here pretty much speak for themselves, and both ‘Dark Apotheosis’ and ‘Rite of Ascension’ competently do what is required.

But it is the slightly longer songs that allow the band to spread their wings further, and provide the most musically interesting moments on the EP.

The prominent lead guitar and use of a more melodic riff makes a great counterpoint to the otherwise urgent style of ‘Ageless, Nameless’, providing a more measured approach that carries through to the remaining tracks. The swirling lead and chugging brutality of ‘Hostis Rei’, and the well-paced, brooding nature of ‘Vacivum Aeternum’ carries some great vocals. With the higher rasps of “All is nothing, nothing is all” and the moody, chanted backing vocal, proving most effective.

The latter part of the EP seems to tie-in better with the striking cover art and general Anti-Cosmic attitude, showing great potential for any future full-length releases.

‘Rite of Ascension’ is a solid debut. It may not blow your mind, but it points in all the right directions and spews forth a name that’s well worth keeping an eye out for.

(6.5/10 Stuart Carroll)