It is time to enter “the void” courtesy of Italian composer Matteo Gruppi el maestro behind everything we hear on Il Vuoto’s second full length album following on from ‘Weakness’ in 2015. We are informed that ‘Vastness is a painting of sorrow as experienced by four different states of mind,” no answers are really given as to what those states are and I guess that is left to the listener to interpret. They are presented over 5 long tracks and nearly an hour’s worth of music. You often know exactly what you are going to get with funeral doom and that is the bedrock of what we have here; slow and long immersive tracks with weathered vocals and clarity represented by some fantastic underlying melody. Il Vuoto do things a bit differently than that though and bring harmonies to the fore with plenty of long acoustic moments sparkling within the depths of the music. This makes ‘Vastness’ not only vast but also an absorbing and at times a really mellow listening experience.
The title track flutters in with a staccato peel sounding like moths wings interpreted via a violin before a gorgeous acoustic melody unfolds. There is a sense of fragility as we enter this grand vastness and we are enticed by the sound waiting for the full substance and weight of it fully bear fruit. There’s no great hurry for it to do so but eventually it does and the expected low gruff vocal tones are added to the musical tapestry as is low beseeching and clean misery drenched singing. Everything about this quietly screams “classic” at the listener from the guitar work to the doom sound. Apart from the moments of fragility there is also plenty of weightiness about the central movements and doom advocates should not worry if they are looking to be bent over and worship at the altar of slow motion heft. ‘Weakness’ is obviously a very important theme as it is the next massive song here too brought to us via sparkling acoustic guitar work and a slow tolling drum beat. Vocals are odd in expression almost at a Gothic warbling but the message is more than clear despite the warmth of the actual music “Today, misery is mine.” It’s akin to a being at a wake and we drown in it as we drown our very sorrows and do so drinking in its very beautiful essence. The guitar playing is excellent and it really sparkles in a sense similar in effect to a band of a DSBM ilk, the dichotomy of sorrow and the joy of enthralling yourself in the overall listening experience speaks words.
Morose and bleak the sublime guitar work on ‘Her Fragile Limbs’ haunts and the melody is fantastically rich. After what has seemed like aeons the weight drops back in, the growls and tempered and the effect is expertly handled. Everyone from lovers of funeral doom to bands like My Dying Bride, Warning and Anathema should find ground here and yes it kind of does have a bit of a British sensibility to me. Longest track ‘V The Fifth Nail’ slothfully pounds opening wounds with enriching melody and grandiosity. Choral vocal effects gently weep in the background along with those of morose longing and loss from Gruppi. As for the closing instrumental ‘As The Whole World Failed Me’ there’s something magical about it that reminds me of the music on the last Summoning album and it feels it would easily have fitted in there. With Doom We Came indeed.
Vastness arrived with 2 other very good sounding albums from the ever reliable Hypnotic Dirge and I stupidly put it on the review list knowing I really wanted it for myself. I couldn’t have been more pleased when none of the other writers put in a claim for it and enjoyed having it all to myself. Simply put an absolutely gorgeous piece of work.
(8/10 Pete Woods)