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There is, inside the black metal edifice, a certain niche, down there, at the basement or dungeon level, which borders on the space of two particular sub-genres: namely the catacombs of depressive black metal and the etheric thunderbolts of the kind of black/death that was showcased by Bölzer. It is this marginal space that hosts such acts as UK’s Swarþ and the band in question, Præternatura (solo project of Matron Thorn – see Ævangelist, Death Fetishist, etc). Moving beyond such base human feelings as discomfort and despair which are usually associated with depressive/suicidal black metal, yet remaining in the realm of shadows, not reaching up to the Olympian majesty of the Bölzer school, this particular sub-genre retains the ritual side of the dungeon space, as well as the sheer mass of black/death. At the intersection of these two schools lies a ghost wandering through endless corridors, which has long shed its last drops of human nature. A dark, cavernous specimen, with a suffocating density.
Consisting of four long-winded tracks, “Symmetry Of The Void” revels in its own complexity, sporting a multi-layered structure. The guitar work shines, both in technicality and in elegance, spewing forth torturous walls of dissonance (on which the claustrophobic, eerie atmosphere is based) along with threads of eerie, finespun guitar riffs that emerge from the rather more voluptuous aforementioned walls. In other words, the tortuous and thick body of orthodox-like black metal, layered with death metal frosting, is grafted with a slithering and technical riff mobility, precise and evocative as the chime of midnight bells, with subtle hints of melody too. In many points throughout the record, one feels like being circled by swarms of spirits and shrapnel (there are a few hints of almost mechanized – industrialized if you prefer – repetition). Lastly, I could not ignore the allure of a Necromantia- or Cultes Des Ghoules-esque, bass-dominant moment on the last, namesake track.
Tempo-wise, the album twists around both mid-tempo, almost doom-ish speed, and blastbeat moments that reach towards the depths of subterranean lakes. Vocals are guttural, death metal-like growls from the deep, quite thick in the articulation of (the sadly unavailable) lyrics. Graced with a precise yet not clinical production, the compositions shine – if one devotes time in order to penetrate the apparent complexity of them. Be warned, the four tracks are quite diverse throughout their length, and things shift with mercurial frequency. The album, like a grand ritual, demands attention, yet its rewards are ample. “Symmetry Of The Void” could be considered as an aesthetic aspect of the poetics of otherworldliness, massive and eerie at the same time. Præternatura seem to make an excellent discographic debut with this release.