"Nothing But The Whole"

By Dr. Abner Mality

This is as bleak as the skeletons of dead trees in December or maybe the dirty slush of a long winter piled up in an abandoned factory's parking lot. Yes, there's a lot of depressing, grey music being released these days...too much, as a matter of fact...but I guarantee that none of it sounds like Emptiness. This strange Belgian band has been slowly crawling a lonely path since their beginnings and with "Nothing But The Whole", they have arrived at the rarest of results...a completely unique and individual sound.

Press sheet describes this as "death metal". I would not use that term for this band. This has about as much in common with Suffocation and Devourment as Opeth does with AC/DC. There are indeed some very heavy moments here, but this is in no way a head-crushing riff-fest of the traditional kind. That becomes apparent with first cut "Go And Hope", which oozes a cold, dead atmosphere but uses little in the way of bludgeoning force. It's a strange, ghostly track with high emphasis on the Gothic. Emptiness has carved out a sound where metal nestles with the ambient. One hates to use the term "shoegaze" but that wouldn't be out of place. However, that denotes a certain wimpiness and there is still a weight here that can flatten you. Crushing power shows up in "Behind The Curtain" and "All Is Known", but those songs include more somber, jangly guitar and a sparse, emotional barreness. "Tale of A Burning Man" is a welcome, if rather brief, blast of powerful brute force that has the cold sound but also makes the blood pump faster. "The Past Is Death" slows things down but has an industrial doom feeling (done in Emptiness's own unique style) to it. The album ends how much how it began, with the depressing and restrained trudge of "Lowlands".

When the album concludes, you feel like you have walked through an endless grey landscape littered with the ruins of a dead civilization. It is hard to find something that sounds close to this. Emptiness has worked very hard to find their own voice and for that, they deserve a lot of respect. This isn't a fun, headbanging album to listen to, but it is potent nonetheless.