Void Of Sleep are a five piece band who hail from Ravenna, Italy, and much like their peers, the excellent Psychedelic Witchcraft, they play a rather mind-bending variant of doom. Unlike their peers however, Void Of Sleep focus more on the murkier aspects of the doom sound and bend it to their whims. Blending the thick and harsh tones of Sludge with the low end thundering Doom elements, dashes of stoner styled rock and plenty of psychedelia and progressive rock influences, the five piece have already released two albums. The 2013 debut “Tales Between Reality And Madness” was well received and rightly praised and the 2015 follow-up “New World Order” helped the band refine their sound further. Now, 5 years on, in the midst of a pandemic which has taken the world by storm, the Italians have returned from their slumber with “Metaphora”. Strap in and enjoy the experience.
Instrumental opener “The Famine Years” sets the scene. The clean acoustic arpeggios ring out with clarity, providing a bright sound and roadmap for the darker and more ominous synth and sample elements to work around. It lines up well and creates that simmering tension which has you expecting something to suddenly explode to life, bursting through the surroundings and catching you off guard. “Iron Mouth” does so as it roars to life with big rolling drums and a ferocious snarling wall of chords. Sabbathian feel riffs, pounding and thundering bursts of bass and haunting vocals which clearly ring through the musical storm beneath it. Weighing in at around 11 minutes in length, it is a fairly lengthy track, but there is enough diversity on offer during it – the way the band manage to blend the common ground Doom, Stoner and Sludge all share, mixed in with a psychedelic and progressive twist is well executed and it is reflected in the composition of the tracks.
From here on out, the tracks are mostly straight forwards in terms of length, ranging from around 3 minutes to nearly 7 minutes with only the final track, ‘Tides Of The Mourning’ breaking the 10 minutes in length barrier. “Waves Of Discomfort” is an instrumental track which again helps with the atmospheric impact of the music, building the intensity and suspense up for “Unfair Judgements” which follows on from it. Perhaps ‘Waves’ may have benefitted from simply being absorbed into ‘Unfair Judgements’, but aside from that it doesn’t seem to do much else. “Unfair Judgements” is a slow and pounding Doom Colossus. The hammering drums and booming bass provide a solid rhythmic foundation for the haunting vocals to accent. The Guitars have a strong presence, adding weight with huge chords or flavour with melodic bursts. The exotic melodic section towards the end has a very sinister edge to it too which helps with the unsettling atmosphere and overall it is a good track.
“Master Abuser” is a powerhouse of a track. Aggressive sounding, energetic and possessing a wild edge, it storms forwards. Roaring vocals, tight grooves and a wall of noise slams into you like a freight train and it doesn’t leave much in its wake. Even when it eases off towards the middle of the track, the pounding low end and ferocious drums remain. A big rolling drum sequence and frantic bassline shifts into a fusion-esque section which carries an unsettling air to it, ramping the suspense factor up several gears before it suddenly goes silent, slipping into an ominous synth passage which slips into “Modern Man” seamlessly. Much more tame and prog rock leaning, it is a fairly technical track with plenty of intricate riffs and atmospheric augmentation, kind of like a far heavier Blue Ӧyster Cult. Shifts between complex arpeggios in shifting time signatures to walls of chords and fusion styled sequences litter the track and it shows what the band are capable of when they aren’t dialling the heavy up to the max. “Tides Of The Mourning” closes the album, and much like the opening track, it is a behemoth in terms of run time. Again, showing some similarities with how the release starts, it has a (relatively) clean arpeggio sequence with a gradual building backing presence, going from haunting and melancholic tones to fierce fuzz-laden explosions and plenty of psychedelic undertones, topped with mesmerising vocals which linger like the clean bursts of guitar, helping create a slightly surreal air to the track and closing the album in style.
In all, “Metaphora” is a solid album. It has plenty of momentum and a solid structuring, the only flaws being the slightly unnecessary instrumental “Waves Of Discomfort” which kind of saps the flow from the first track despite linking it to the rest of the release. The clever blending of the Doom heaviness, the Stoner grooves and Sludge harshness to a progressive and psychedelic leaning flow creates something special. It is a wonderful release, loaded with plenty of heavy headbanging riffs, intricate arrangements and a solid atmosphere which allows you to lose yourself to it entirely.
We might not be allowed to go outside at will currently, but the journey “Metaphora” takes us on is a great experience and one which doesn’t require any social contact!