It is quite possible that Dark Descent is one of my favourite record labels and has been for the past few years due to the continual output of top quality extreme music they release and this debut full length from US doom death outfit Spectral Voice adds to that ever growing mountain of essential albums from this label.

Everything about this debut is malevolent, oozing iniquitous soul slaughtering intent within the five monstrous tracks which initiate your demise with “Thresholds Beyond”. The haunting guitar melody is alluring initially before the bass blankets the track with an oppressive virtual asphyxiating aura coupled to the driving drums which possess a miasmic density. The vocals are virtually indiscernible from the bass at times as they’re cemented into the mix in a ghoulish drawl which works to create an intimidating and palpable malfeasance right up to the riff break which is immense as the song ends with clamouring noise that flows into the colossal “Visions Of Psychic Dismemberment”. The doom metal guitar hook is stark, desolate laden before the songs rhythm section obliterates it revealing an isolated riff and banshee vocals sporadically making apparitional like appearances amidst the guttural roars. The rolling double bass has an unbridled pulverising approach but it is those eerie guitar hooks and doom like riffs that get your attention even if they’re only momentary before being detonated aside in a cacophonous assault. A myriad of tempo fluctuations adorn the song, accompanied by tonal changes in the vocals too which work to add considerable depth and character.

The relatively short “Lurking Gloom” is aptly named and transforms from surging nihilistic sonic abominations to virtual serenity that leads into “Terminal Exhalation” which begins in true doom death fashion similar to very early Katatonia and Paradise Lost if only very briefly. Despite my ramblings of monstrous deathliness this album is saturated in atmosphere and mood, none more so than this track which has a creeping, cloying texture on the riffing. As the song expands the bone sawing riff is awesome, linking nicely with the deluging double kick and beastly vocal drive. Closing this sonic defilement is “Dissolution” a track that begins by making you feel like someone is watching you, its riff is typically creepy before the death metal onslaught discharges from the speakers in waves of fetid rancour. The song adds another dimension vocally with a monastic like vocal piece that almost goes unnoticed, or maybe I imagined it as the song drops into doom death slithering with the percussion emphasising the cymbals excellently here right before the riff break and subsequent blast; perfectly placed and perfectly executed for maximum effect.

Spectral Voice’s sole mission is to unnerve and unsettle and their debut is one of the most egregious and heinous doom death albums you will ever hear.

(9/10 Martin Harris)