Produced, recorded, mixed and mastered by Richard Iturra at Ripo Studio, Arica, Chile. Voices, guitars and bass recorded at The Farm Studio (Buin, Chile); drums recorded at Audio Custom Studio (Santiago, Chile). Cover art and song illustrations by Claudio Hernández. Final layout by Eliseo Peña. Released on Sliptrick Records on Tuesday 7 March 2023.
For fans of Opeth, Emperor, At The Gates, My Dying Bride
Withered Paradogma (2023) is the third full-length album from Chilean progressive death metal band Weight of Emptiness. Thematically, the album focuses on life and death as part of the cycles of being human: death is just one more step, a new beginning, the awakening to a new age, where the old ways are withered.
As the band explains, the album was composed in the midst of the lonely and uncertain global pandemic, and comes to propose a new direction, which will seek to illuminate the deepest darkness of the soul.
The album opens with a tribal-sounding track, “Mütrümtun (The calling)” (track 1). It is ethnic, it feels authentic, a beautiful melody and simple instrumentation that weaves in and out of itself. It is quite simply unrepresentative of the brutality to come. But oh! what an introduction.
“Defrosting” (track 2) flings us into the orbit of a pummelling, pulsating planet around which we spin and swoop between solid slabs of crushing, ugly metal and melodic passages of beauty.
“0440” (track 3) ticks into being like a clock. A chorus of voices and staccatoed riff usher in the dark, gruff vocals of this majestic and powerful track that alternates between dark, black metal and soaring, angelic melodies. “Wolves” (track 4) rattles off the blocks, powerful baritone vocals flow into gruff barks, another soaring melody. “Vital end” (track 5) is one dark mother of a song! Fast, frantic, dark, barked vocals that reminds me strongly of Diabolical Masquerade.
The ponderous, mesmerising introduction to “Beyond the marinas” (track 6), resplendent with the sounds of seabirds, gradually builds pace and intensity until it settles into a brooding and plodding stomp that is answered by a sorrowful melody. This is one of my favourite tracks on the album.
Rattling drums, thrashing guitars. All rise! The “Black state council” (track 7) is in session. The almost chanted vocals take this song to new levels of intensity. There is something gloriously majestic about this track. It touches the heart of the ancients. Fabulous!
And then … the acoustic guitars begin. The dark clouds clear and “Storm within” (track 8) comes into view. Clean vocals and a Spanish guitar. I mean… obviously it descends into an anxious, half-shouted, half-drowned riff with melancholic solo, but it wouldn’t be a storm otherwise, would it now?
The acoustic guitars extend into the opening of “Oblivion collector” (track 9) which is fingerpicked beneath a confident vocal. A twisting riff morphs from one shape to the next, vocals follow suit—almost Viking-like chanting trades phrases with the powerful gruff vocals of a mountain giant. These are surely the songs of the Chilean mountain gods.
Another track that reminds me of the magnificent Diabolical Masquerade is “Solstice haze” (track 10). Vocals spat with venom over a ticking, frantic riff. Smooth and sorrowful guitar solos, supported by drums and bass. There is an urgency and vulnerability to this track that makes it feel so unbearably human. It is extraordinary.
And finally, “The awakening” (track 11). A brutal slab of melodic, progressive death metal. This is the final curtain, the magnificent showpiece, the showstopper. The song blasts and rages until … silence. A rest. A breather. A quiet reflection. The final assault rises … then quietly descends. Acoustic guitar. Tribal, ethnic, home. Superb.
I dismissed this album on my first listen. Oh, it’s just… this or that. I was half-listening to it while working. This is not an album to listen to as background music while trying to concentrate on something complex. I made that mistake. This album demands and deserves your attention. This is another of those albums that feels like an event, that feels like a layer of reality has been peeled back a little and we’ve been allowed to peek behind it. This album makes you work for it. But when it you do … wow! Good stuff! Really good.
Review score: 85%
Grand Sounds PR contacted me inviting me to preview Weight of Emptiness’s latest album, thank you. I have no connections to either Grand Sounds PR or Weight of Emptiness. I’m not being paid to review this. But I did get a free digital copy of the album to review which is pretty cool. Many thanks to Grand Sounds PR, and to Weight of Emptiness for continuing to create fresh, exciting new music.