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Nihil Quam Vacuitas Ordinatum Est

Lavadome Productions (2015)
Rating: 8/10

Nothing beats a fix of jarring and at times bewildering death metal. Italy’s Ad Nauseam are the latest exponents of experimental extreme metal; rising out of Schio in 2011, this quartet has clearly thought long and hard about this release and come up with a progressive cacophony of nightmarish proportions.

Apparently, some of the songs on offer here have been some five years in the making and believe me, you won’t hear anything else like this for a while. Indeed, members Andrea P. (vocals / guitar), Matteo G. (guitar), Matteo B. (bass) and Andrea S. (drums) should be commended for such an unconventional assault on the senses.

Nihil Quam Vacuitas Ordinatum Est is one of those special extreme metal records that comes along when you least expect it, but when it does strike you’re so unprepared that you often have to take leave from its layers in order to take it all in.

So what we get with this debut opus are eight relatively lengthy tracks – the shortest being five-and-a-half minutes and the longest at over ten. From the off, it’s a perplexing array of technical death metal that at certain times may have you staring quizzically at the stereo to make sure the record / disc hasn’t skipped!

Opener ‘My Buried Dream’ begins with a suspenseful screech, but then lurches into a truly jarring soundscape of jazzed up death metal reminiscent of the sort of multi-layered techniques that the likes of Atheist et al plundered in the early 90s. However, this is more frantic and even less accessible – the bass-lines seemingly cavorting, twisting and flipping in order to toy with the avalanche of percussion. Oddly, the drums are rarely brutal but merely infrequent taps and perverse beats which contradict the unorthodox riffs and epileptic leads. Indeed, the only apparent “normal” quality about the record are the vocals. Yep, thankfully they are just death metal grunts, but they too have to contend with the pulverising display performed by those manic yet ever-changing chords and tumbling drum escapades.

‘Key To Timeless Laws’ begins with an effective barrage then throws in a few hyper blast-beats to complement the obdurate hammer drums, but here I’m reminded somewhat of the cosmic creations of Nocturnus. Although the whole thing flows, there is just not one second when the quartet rests on a certain beat or rhythm, each track existing as a hot-bed of jolting, quaking and juddering extremity. Forget banging your head to this; instead, you’ll spend most of the duration scratching your cranium until the skin begins to flay.

One cannot ignore the utter quality of this intricate battering ram of a record; the aforementioned ‘Key To Timeless Laws’ takes on so many twists and turns that you’ll be feeling as if your brain has been turned upside down, and when one considers the length of each track, your ears won’t know what’s going on by the time ‘La Maison Diev’ has delivered its extreme pattern shifts. I’m not going to lie, it’s going to take a bold or stupid traveller to dive into this labyrinth of sound and attempt to unravel its layers, because Nihil Quam Vacuitas Ordinatum Est harbours a multitude of perplexing mysteries – each barrage unfolding and presenting itself like some esoteric and cosmic code.

‘Into The Void Eye’ begins in measured fashion, but the drums are soon rampant and playing with those gargantuan yet metamorphosing chords. The vocals shift between yaps and growls but again are the only constant feature to latch on to, the rest of the sound being a distorted and disorientating maze. In fact, even after a few spins, Ad Nauseam’s debut offering is a difficult one to review as I’m still alienated by a number of tracks; I’m bewildered by the rampaging ‘Lost In The Antiverse’ and equally befuddled by the behemoths ‘The Black Veil Of Original Flaw’ and ‘Superimposing Mere Will And Sheer Need’ – both of which are complex networks of rattling drums, bemusing bass and confusing rhythms.

Albums of this nature are nigh on impossible to pin down; flipping, churning, reversing, spinning, gambolling and convulsing through its entirety, and oh how I wish I could give it a higher rating but an eight is at once a compliant and yet a reflection as to its cosmically complex aura. Lump this manifestation in with Gorguts and the likes, and only visit when truly prepared for brainwashing!

Neil Arnold

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