Delvoid are a post prog rock band from Norway whose work has been likened to Tool, Sigur Ròs, Isis and even Opeth. From the instrumental and spooky intro, it is evident that their output has care and precision. This leads into the mechanical and hypnotising “Cocoon”. To a pendulum sound, there’s a delicate ring and a feel of being underwater. It dreamily expands like an Isis track. Out of the blue waves a soft prog voice floats above the calming scene. The wavy sounds and atmosphere reminded strongly of Riverside, but Delvoid make their own peaceful and beautiful progress, reflecting the album’s title. Time does not stand still and gradually the sound builds up to an emotive outburst and suddenly the scene is stormy before settling back into colourful reflection and building up to a tense finish.
Delvoid’s strengths are their versatility and ability to challenge the ordinary. After the sublime movement and atmospheres of “Cocoon”, I struggled more with the heavier “Steambreather”, yet I recognise and commend it for its dynamic and urgent forces. By contrast, and this is an album of contrast, the piano, acoustic sounds and dreamy vocals extract the maximum melancholy from “Transient”. The opening line is striking: “You old ugly hag, got her hungry for more chit-chat”. It’s a very dark track whose softness of tone is offset by its sinister nature – it sounds and feels like Porcupine Tree. The pendulum rhythm returns on “Diffused” where the minimalist sound and whispered vocals add an even more sinister mood. It’s one of those tracks where you get absorbed and immersed in its swirling and hypnotic mists. In true post metal style the winds whip up slowly and to the steady drum patter, huge expansive chords emerge. A haunting voice hovers over the mystic waves. It’s sad but it’s wonderful to be able to take time to breathe in this captivating cosmic world. As this thirteen minute track reaches its close, there is a crescendo of sounds, among them the distorted sound of a violin. Stringed instruments are used to good effect across the album.
Following the gargantuan “Diffused” was always going to be tough, and by comparison “Dissembler” is relatively mundane, but the violin emerges out of the background and leads into a heavier outburst. For some reason “Dissembler” did not connect with me. Maybe I was still in the world of “Diffused”. In fact the track to have taken me out of this mindset was the appropriately titled “Tribe”. Exotically deep and heavy drums set the pace. A truly tribal rhythm is accompanied by chanting. It’s intriguing. “Carrier” starts in a similar vein, but transforms into an emotively and instrumentally powerful prog track, mixing light and delicacy with darkness and heaviness. Suddenly the energy stops and a reflective passage takes over to a slightly discordant guitar backdrop before the track ends thunderously. Minimalism returns as the eighteen minute title track starts. The volume increases, chords lengthen and we have the makings of a post metal track. There is a colourful interlude. The vocalist’s prog lyrics import meaning – “got to keep the fire going, water running” – and he reflects, cosmic sounds intervene. This is a story with a thousand sides as the bass guitar drives us on as indistinct words can be heard in the background. The build-up and movements are not predictable and we’re not to taken from a quiet A to an explosive B. With Delvoid I’ve come to realise that you pass through stages, all of them interesting and mysterious. Cosmic waves lead to delicacy and beauty and quiet. The vocalist’s pitch rises in intensity as the instrumental rhythm cranks up and there is a symphony of sounds to end “Serene” powerfully. All that remains is the lush and mystical outro.
The Norwegian prog scene is replete with originality and creativity. Delvoid is another shining example. “Serene” is utterly gripping.
(9/10 Andrew Doherty)