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Another entrant into the death metal nostalgia qualifying round, Finns Vorum (formerly Haudankaivaja) keep their heads above many peers through a delicate balance of straightforward, murky annihilation and surges of primal, energetic lead work that simply explode over the rhythm section. All the while, they manage to avoid the pigeonhole of aping any one particular acts from the 90s, no easy feat when you've got piles of this stuff coming at any given time, surely the most prevalent theme going on in all of the death metal genre at present. Poisoned Void is the band's first full length outing, but based on what I hear through its compact, 35 minutes of seal clubbing, I think this is going to be a pretty huge hit among the connoisseurs of such antiquated brutality.
Surely, you've got obvious fingers to point in terms of influences, from Incantation to Autopsy, Asphyx to older Pestilence, to their own national forebears like Demilich or Convulse, but it would be more fitting to approach this record as: the 90s, coming at you fast, rotting, and very often. The hyper-realized guitar tone is crusted in this thick and churning tone which holds up through the faster-paced, harmonic tremolo riffing, which is in truth perhaps the most interesting focus of all the gathered riffs. Once they start breaking out into chords, the patterns become a bit meeker and less compelling, but Poisoned Void functions perfectly well between just these swift passages, the slower, eerie intros ("Thriving Darkness") and the astoundingly cool leads ("Deaths Stain", "Rabid Blood"). There was a sense that a lot of the individual rhythms move at a concurrent pace, and can seem somewhat samey across the sum structure of the album, but every time you think you're about to nod off, they just unleash this searing series of notes that draws you straight back into their oblique and punishing underworld...
Add to this a perky bass tone which is constantly busy below the bulk of the two guitarists, some hostile and muscular drumming which isn't brickwalled or thoroughly overpolished, and you get a total modern spin on the tones of hellish, archaic juggernauts like Severed Survival, Onward to Golgotha, World Without God or The Rack, all mashed up into one primal blue pill. The vocals of Joatan Johansson (who is also handling one of the guitars) have more of a raucous, shouting effect to them redolent of L-G Petrov or other Swedish old schoolers; rather than a burping gurgle or guttural ghastliness. What's best about the album, though, is that where a lot of these throwback sounds seem to lack either atmosphere or riffing quality, Vorum does manage to hold both together in equal measure. The leads offer exponential value rather than useless and unwelcome indulgence, incendiary visions of occult alienation that take the rhythm section to that next level and make the avid, musically-inclined listener freak out and air guitar. The wormy, muck-caked sinew of the rhythm guitar is a beautifully abusive, and as a whole, Poisoned Void certainly succeeds in taking you back all those years, while maintaining enough intensity to push its punishment forward. Not perfect, but pretty goddamn rad.