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Album Reviews : Vipassi – Śūnyatā

By on February 21, 2016

a2162981354_16When members of Ne Obliviscaris and Hadal Maw get together, what could really go wrong? Vipassi has been in the works for years now, a decade ago if you start from when guitarist Ben Boyle (Hadal Maw) and Dan Presland (Ne Obliviscaris) first started jamming the initial concept. Fellow NeO bandmates Brendan Brown and Benjamin Baret joined a few years later, with plans of a vocalist being abandoned in favour of an instrumental form.

And that’s definitely the right choice considering the calibre of musicians here. There are vocal touches with some growls courtesy of Ben Boyle buried down in “Elpis” and layered female cleans throughout contributed by Chantelle Clancy, but they ultimately act as ambiance there to accent the rest rather than demand attention.

It’s all about the musicianship here. Any fans of Hadal Maw, A Million Dead Birds Laughing, Malignus and the innumerable other bands Boyle has been involved with will know what a distinct style of warped, technical riffage he has, which is paired well with Baret’s skills in more elegant, melodic form. Brown’s bass playing is at the forefront along with the guitars, as interesting as always, and easily audible thanks to his clean tone and a balanced mix. And Presland is his usual self, performing with the kind of speed and precision that only robots should be able to.

Without trying to label this as a side project, there’s always the risk that a bunch of technically talented musicians coming together will result in a bit of an indulgent wankfest, which is understandable. And the guys here no doubt took the project as a chance to go a bit wild, but the tech-death side is all so well balanced with memorable melodies and a sense of atmosphere (the ambient piece “Paradise” being truly beautiful) that is stays true to being a well constructed album rather than “look at how fast I can shred for half an hour”.

The concept of (mostly) instrumental albums can turn some people off, don’t let it here. Śūnyatā is a masterfully created release that’s both interesting to listen to and worthy of both headbanging and gazing at the skies/dirty venue ceiling.


Mitch Booth is the owner, designer and grand overlord of Metal Obsession. In the few seconds of spare time he has outside of this site, he also hosts a metal radio show over on PBS 106.7fm in Melbourne (Australia) and organises shows under the name Untitled Touring. You should follow him on Twitter.