The Emptiness Within
posted on 8/2012 By:
Before metal in the 90s went completely haywire, there were the in-between-genre genres, those that were only slightly different but somehow hardest to pinpoint. London’s De Profundis has long dwelled in such territory, evolving from extreme doom beginnings into the hybrid they offer on The Emptiness Within, their third. The early Gothenburg and Dissection influences are notable, but this lacks the upbeat Maiden influence of the former and the glacial coldness of the latter. Some of the songs have the complex, orchestrated structure of symphonic black metal, but there are no symphonic features on hand. Touches of Ihsahn-ian prog, thrash, doom, and even goth metal line these 55 minutes as well, but again, no style is dominant.
Really, The Emptiness Within is less a hybrid and more just an extreme metal album that touches several bases, and because the band is extremely talented on a purely technical level, the blend is virtually invisible unless listened for. Both songwriting and performances hit the mixture with ease. Vocals screech, growl, and sing. Drums, played by the very practiced Nick Tingle, are blasting, shuffling, and always stylized. Riffs range from the shrill and blackened in “Twisted Landscapes” to the direct and menacing in “Dead Inside,” while tremolo lines and gorgeous solos are smattered and layered everywhere. This layering is key, as at any given time there may be three melodies woven around each other, while at another time a song may direct itself to pure aggression. “Release” is possibly the best example of this. A stirring middle passage of clean vocals and one brilliantly emotive lead guitar line ties the aggressive first half with the progressive second, taking a song that initially appears one dimensional and forming it into something special.
Not every song has quite this level of complexity, and The Emptiness Within certainly isn’t flawless, but its faults are often the kind that one learns to live with, and fast. There are times when the band’s desire for layering goes a bit too far (some unnecessary lead lines during the verses of “Silent Gods”), and the choice to use a fretless bass is often a tad distracting (during any number of softer moments), but the band’s general knack helps the album to overcome these shortcomings. Nowhere is this more evident than during closer “Unbroken (A Morbid Embrace),” where some Halloween-y lyrics and gothy clean vocals actually become endearing in their cheesiness after several spins, simply because they help to send off this strong album.
As with any group that reaches strongly to the past while keeping an eye on their own present, De Profundis will likely never be considered an essential act, but if they nip the few flaws, their skills and songcraft may push them into the next level anyway. The Emptiness Within is extremely damn close as it is, and deserves a long hard listen by anyone who loves their blasting in a blender.
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