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Ov Hollowness : The World Ends : Metal albums reviews

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Ov Hollowness : The World Ends, brief review

Ov Hollowness : The World Ends

Band name: Ov Hollowness

The World Ends in 2013 – at least this is what Edmonton’s Ov Hollowness claims on their latest album. This is not a bald suggestion, but an absolute, extreme and fatal statement. Third installment in Ov Hollowness’ discography, The World Ends reads like the logical follow up to Diminished (2010) and Drawn to Descend (2011). Mark R., mastermind behind the entity, is a busy man, and his latest offspring is nothing but monumental.

The title is proverbial, and so is the music. Ten songs, 73 minutes; longer, more complex than the previous albums, and thicker in production. From the arrangements to the songs order, everything seems precisely calculated, as if it was fomented and planned carefully, written and rewritten a dozen times until full satisfaction. In fact, there are no weak songs, and they all have a personality of their own, from the aggressiveness and bleakness of “Grey” to the pale rays of light of “Ov”.

Ov Hollowness bears characteristics of pagan and black metal, but honestly it is in a category of its own. On The World Ends, we find ourselves in a distant realm, at the edge of Armageddon. It is obviously a personal view of things and we are left alone, in solitude, wandering through the vestiges of a defunct universe, trying to find a shelter from something we can’t escape. Coldness is a key element here – I don’t mean another snow or winter theme – but coldness resulting from isolation into darkness: we feel it through the strong winds samples (first song and outro) to the reverb of the guitars and drums, and the black metal vocals. The music contains atmospheric qualities, but it’s more in the end result than in the actual textures. It is as fast as black metal, as diverse as an Hypocrisy album, and as polished as any big death metal band’s production. From a distance, its take on black metal could almost be compared to Canadians Woods of Ypres and Sig:Ar:Tyr.

In terms of influences, it bears strong similarities with Ireland’s Primordial (“The World Ends”), or with Ukraine’s Raventale (“Hoarfrost”, “Hollow”), two bands that range from fast, repetitive drum patterns, to minimalistic and atmospheric riffs. Ov Hollowness blends the two together with great ease, making the album deep and dynamic.

Steadiness is the key. While the songs vary in tempo, each of them is thoughtfully crafted. The music is so perfectly executed that we can almost hear the click and the mechanical nature of the programmed drums. This rigid structure obviously helps straightening the whole thing: for example, the guitars aren’t the organic, uneven picking of Norwegian “true” black metal, but the precise, rehearsed and perfected guitars recorded in a (home?) studio. There are a few welcome surprises in terms of vocals, ranging from clean singing (“Abstraction”, “The World Ends” “End in View”), “hummms” (“Hoarfrost”, “Ov”), and spoken passages (“An End”).

There is a strong consistency (or laziness, you choose) of thoughts put in the lyrics as well. Not only three songs contain the word “end”, but there is also a great deal of “hollowness” and other keywords throughout. Not surprisingly, the perspective comes from oneself, introspectively: “I’m falling…”, “I feel so beaten”, “I have lost my place”.

But what I found in Ov Hollowness’ third full-length was a refreshing sojourn into the genre’s more digestible side, and it’s clear main man Mark R. has studied his compatriots closely and done what he can to overcome their weaknesses. The World Ends is unique in that it’s black metal more in aesthetic than in execution. Sure, the rasps and tremolos are certainly present but it’s clear the project isn’t limiting itself to any strict definitions. The foremost difference is the clarity and depth of the production, one that’s absolutely massive when compared to just about every other lone wolf project. With a wall of thick guitars that never lets up and low end almost worthy of a Devin Townsend album, Mr. R. clearly pens his tracks with the recording process in mind. It’s easy to dock points for fairly typical programmed drums, but they’re subtle and low enough in the mix to put the focus elsewhere and don’t distract from the overall atmosphere.

And atmosphere is something there’s plenty of, with each instrument standing powerfully on its own and creating a broad and dynamic listening experience as Mark’s voice ranges from bombastic to grim. You never know what you’re going to get with each song, it’s an album that loves keeping you on your toes and constantly surprises and intrigues. The titular track has a particularly epic feel, doing away with any sort of kvlt intentions and bringing to mind recent Primordial efforts being played with a heavy metal sentiment; wonderful chugging abounds.

The album is strong, but a few missteps hold back its effectiveness and make you wonder if a few other decision makers added to the mix wouldn’t help, but such is the price of working alone. The finale of “Abstractive” is confounding, coming to an end only to start up again then awkwardly fade out a minute later. And having a long, ambient outro isn’t necessarily a bad thing but when it’s simply samples thrown together and given the name “Outro” it essentially tells listeners not to bother with it. But in retrospective those book-ended gripes are minor and far enough apart to give them a pass when reflecting on this powerful and varied release from Canada’s newest BM force. The World Ends is a worthy addition to the one man black metal grimoire, standing above the rest by breaking molds.

Album: The World Ends, review

The bands country origin: Canada

Metal albums reviews

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