We already mentioned in last year’s AOTY lists that 2019 was an absolute highlight when it comes to Death Metal. Seemingly, 2020 was a fucked up year when it comes to the global health situation, the Death Metal output however returned to another peak, as can be said in my opinion. One of the releases you definitely should be waiting for is Gutvoid’s upcoming EP Astral Bestiary that was released via Blood Harvest Records.
The Canadian quartet starts off their EP quite gloomily, introducing their sound with a gloomy melody only to have blasting drums kick in to underline the sound. Shortly thereafter, though, we crush straight into a groovy and riff-based rhythm-oriented Death Metal track on “They Came Dripping From the Stars” that strongly reminds of Canadian fellows Tomb Mold on their Manor of Infinite Forms. The guitar is in the absolute forefront, showcasing riffs that portray a decent amount of technicality whereas not drifting too far into the sound of Technical Death Metal, maintaining the Old School Death Metal spirit. The vocals might slightly step into the background when comparing to the guitars, but still perfectly fit into the entire mix with the gurgling sound that underlines the groove with which the EP sets off. What definitely conveys the headbanging sound on this track is the diverse drum playing combined with its mixing that makes your head nod the entire time.
After the first half of the first track, though, the true strength of this EP steps into the forefront. I don’t wanna say that the first track itself wasn’t strong – because it was a damn good track that already hinted at the progression of this EP. But on the second track, it becomes clear that Gutvoid want to progress with their 3-track-EP when the Death Doom sequence that finished “They Came Dripping from the Stars” is able to simultaneously breathe in and out during the intro sequence of “Entranced by a Frozen Dawn.” On this second track, Gutvoid showcases that they are capable of easily switching between the groove that was prominent on the first track and the finesse of Death Doom that focuses on drums and guitar interludes. The lead melody that enters this song steps away from the sound that lead the first track and moves towards an eerie soundscape – just the way you want to have your Death Doom to sound like. The drums are slowed down, the overall mix is pushed together and feels more consuming than before. Especially the short acoustic part close to the end perfectly catches the attention during this 11-minute-long monolith of a track. Troughout this song, though, the feeling is already transported that this track as well works towards a different progression, which is then understood when the final track of the EP opens.
On this last track “Pilgrimage to the Necropolis Ruin,” the whole EP eventually exhales with a fully instrumental song that prolongs the consuming atmosphere of the major share of this EP. The atmosphere of the melodies on the second track are recaptured on this track as well, again leading to the eerie soundscape that was upheld all the time already. Closing the EP with an instrumental track also puts a drastic highlight on the instrumentation of this release and finished the progression from a energetic and fast opener that slowly calms down and eventually comes to a halt.
If you had told me before this release that it was possible to construct a progression like this on an EP that only contains three tracks, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. Gutvoid is able to show their strenghts in songwriting both of groovy Death Metal and Death Doom, but also the ability to use this strenghts in an absolute natural progression to come along with a release like that. Definitely make sure to not miss this and keep your eyes open to more releases by this great band!