The Smashing Skull Sessions

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Predatory Void - Seven Keys to the Discomfort of Being

During last year at Soulcrusher festival over here in the Netherlands, out of nowhere came this band that impressed the audience with a truly pulverizing show. It was their first ever live show with this band, but I remember looking at my mates and giving each other that “head nod” of approval. I had not read anything about this band prior to this gig and didn’t know anything about them. On stage I was surprised to see quite some familiar faces. One could call this a semi all-star Belgian underground quintet with the likes of Lennart Bossu (Amenra, Oathbreaker) and Thijs de Cloedt (Cobra the Impaler) on guitars, Tim de Gieter (Amenra, Doodseskader) on bass, Vincent Verstrepen (Carnation) on drums. Perhaps vocalist Lina R. (Crossbringer) is the only one that is/was not that well-known yet.

Although originally started by Bossu during lockdowns as a musical outlet for what he could not release through the other bands he’s in, Predatory Void really is an amalgamation of all the members’ favorite metal styles and interests. As a result, you can hear elements of death, sludge, thrash, post, doom and black metal on their debut album, Seven Keys to the Discomfort of Being. Loose elements that somehow are combined and blended impressively so that every song stands firm and strong on its own. Through the first three minutes of opener Grovel, one can hear melodic grooving, mid-tempo thrash metal, brutal double-bass death metal drums and grunts, ice cold screaming and semi-acoustic guitar with clean female vocals on top, as an immediate showcase of the wide range that this album is built on.

(struggling ..) first seconds opens with Lina R. screaming her lungs out before filthy chunky riffs accompany her. She wrote her own lyrics and went all-in there. Dealing about the dark and heavy topics life beholds for us, she screams all her frustrations and anxieties from deep within, onto the world. Very impressive what sound and volume she can produce on the album. To me those screams turn a bit monotone after listening to them a couple of songs in a row, but cleverly, and for variation, they are altered with passages where she uses her beautiful clean ethereal vocals and whispers. In the fast and heavier parts she’s supported by de Gieter’s deep grunts.

Third song Endless Return to the Kingdom of Sleep starts of slow and melodic with those clean vocals over clean guitars later, to be joined with fast double-bass. The song changes between pure death metal (with some nice Pestilence-ish riffages), grooving sludge and ending with the clean guitars and sensitive clean vocals. Seeds of Frustration is right in the middle of the album, and it continues where the previous song ended and it works as a sort of peaceful safe space between all the darkness, aggression and heaviness around. A place to take a breath and recover.

The band abandons the safe place and dives into the second half of the album. Headfirst back into the turmoil and the extreme with The Well Within, Shedded Weather Skin and closer, Funerary Vision. The latter turns out one of my favorite songs after listening the album over and over. Such fantastic melancholic guitar chords with Lina singing beautifully intense clean parts. Later, the song deepens and accelerates in both tone and pace. A ten-minute banger. And then all is quiet. I must admit that I find it quite a job to listen to the album in its entirety, I find myself enjoying the songs better separately from each other or in pairs. There’s still space to grow as a band, but with all these talents and qualities combined the future looks interesting.

Predatory Void did an amazing job on their first album and Century Media were wise enough to release it. Seven impressive strong songs with great writing and excellent production. With the amazing artwork done by Sven Harambašić this is a superb all-round extreme album that already received high acclaim worldwide in the first month after release. Do yourself a favor and give it a spin if you haven’t already!