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Spectral Voice > Sparagmos > 2024, Digital, Dark Descent Records > Reviews > Down_91
Spectral Voice - Sparagmos

DENOUNCING THE SUPREMACY OF BEING... - 99%

Down_91, February 11th, 2024
Written based on this version: 2024, Digital, Dark Descent Records

Denver's Spectral Voice has finally delivered their long-awaited second album. In 2017, they unleashed 'Eroded Corridors of Unbeing', a terrific composition that reached cult status and whose influence still echoes in the caverns of contemporary death/doom (for a very recent and obvious example, see Atavistic Decay; perhaps add to that Black Wound's 'Warping Structure' as well.). This was followed by the compilation album 'Necrotic Demos' in 2020, which brought together a number of demos and singles the band put out before and after the debut full-length, some of which were in splits with the likes of Blood Incantation, Anhedonist, Undergang, Phrenelith, etc. While the compilation was a precious entry into their catalogue, it did little to quench the thirst for the blood of a new full-length.

Finally, 2024 brought us 'Sparagmos' – a glorious and sinister creation worthy of its predecessors. While taking a more 'blackened' and even 'ambient' road – a shift which the band members have been talking about as far back as 2018 – the music remains true to its established style. The four lengthy tracks present a dense and distinct sound that emanates a dreadful and doomy atmosphere. The most notable new addition is the ritualistic elements. Bells, whistles, and distant chants are incorporated throughout, pointing to the Dionysian frame the title suggests.

And if something makes this album fall short of perfection for me, it's that there aren't as many of these eerie rite elements as I would like. The absolute best example of this motif is in the longest track, 'Red Feasts Condensed into One', which all but stops at around the five-minute mark for almost a minute of dark ceremonial sounds suggesting the most evil yet calmly carried-out sacraments.

The lyrics, however, do more than make up for this 'sparagmatic' scarcity, as Eli Wendler is in top form in all three hypostases – lyricist, drummer, and most of all, vocalist. Unlike the previous full-length, here his vocals are more present and diverse, screaming, grunting, and choking on an array of necromantic poesy. The rest of the band does an equally extraordinary job in all departments (the clean guitar parts are as ominous and lurking as ever!), which is complimented quite well by the mixing. It should be noted that I am writing this on the day of its release, after only a few full listens, so many of the nuances of the music are yet to emerge.

Perhaps the highest compliment I can pay to this album is that it manages to retain the spectacular achievements of the previous while also taking the music further, yet it in no way serves as its substitute; i.e., what I get out of listening to 'Sparagmos' is vastly different from what I get out of 'Corridors'. Both, however, are crowing achievements of contemporary death metal, and we can only hope for many more to come.

In conclusion:

Hail Death!
Hail Decay!
Hail Chaos!
Hail Denver!