Artist: Right to the Void
Album: Kingdom of Vanity
Imagine a dark, dense forest–spanning for what seems like it must be hundreds upon hundreds of miles. With thick, nearly un-traversable thickets of wiry, coarse vines and age-old trees, it’s a chore to even see thirty feet in–let alone three hundred. The only thing you know, looking into this bastard bramble offspring of Mother Nature, is that you aren’t alone. What’s looking back at you is nothing other than Kingdom of Vanity, the debut full-length release from French technical death metal act Right to the Void. Blending dark, chaotic elements of aggressive thrash with brooding, bitter death metal and hints of no-punches-pulled hardcore, Kingdom of Vanity is a release which is just as diverse and cavernous as the Amazon, but as solemn and foreboding as night.
Kingdom of Vanity is just that–a kingdom. Only rather than vanity seated atop the throne, rather, the listener finds that punishing, progressive instrumentation reigns as king. Guitars and bass wind and twist around each other, creating dense, intricate layers of sound–much the body of Right to the Void’s forest of awe-inspiring metal. Underneath those branches and trunks, however, are roots. Roots of deep, pounding and blisteringly quick percussion, which serve as the musical framework upon which the stellar instrumentation is crafted. “Stay” showcases this as well as any track on the album, jumping at the listener with ravenous blast beats which serve as a scaffold for skin-slicing riffs and jarringly quick tempo changes which shock the listener into submission. This is contrasted brilliantly with the band’s other instrumental proclivity–the atmospheric and melodic. Influenced by an almost-Swedish flavor, tracks like “We Have Failed” use a slower and more punctual candor, and incorporate stellar, ear-catching solos to create a deeper dynamic. Moments like the solo and introductory sequence on “We Have Failed” show Right to the Void filling in the empty spots in their forest-like ethos, providing not just thick, steadfast structure, but a flair for the colorful and varied which will catch the listener off-balance and tip them right to the floor.
The instrumentation, however, would get boring after several tracks were it not for the relief provided, in part, by the vocals. While Right to the Void find themselves lapsing into moments of musical monotony, several sections are liberated by a wonderous amount of vocal diversity which keeps the listener enthralled. “Again and Again…Until the End” is a perfect example of this. While the drums continue to roar along at their break-neck pace, and the guitars lay down a tedious-but-brilliantly-executed riff which walks the line between repetitive and rollicking, the vocals keep the listener’s ears peeled. Using everything from a shrill, rasping high to a low, unintelligible bellow, the vocal diversity on this track—and indeed all of Kingdom of Vanity—is superb. “We Have Failed” and “World Decay” are two other stellar examples of this, where the vocals are diverse and fluid, fitting every mood provided by the bipolar and intense instrumentation. When they drums dominate and the track roars along at miles per-second, the vocals are raspy and roar right alongside with them. However, when a sharp drop-off into a grimy groove attacks the listener, the vocals dive into a guttural growl right alongside them. Ultimately, the manner in which the vocals fit the instruments like a glove saves Kingdom of Vanity from seemingly inevitable monotony.
Right to the Void are capable of crafting a diverse and engaging dynamic out of relatively par-for-the-course pieces that make Kingdom of Vanity nothing less than enthralling. While the riffs seem to, after several listens, get repetitive and predictable, and there’s only so long someone can listen to blast beat after blast beat, together with the vocals, it is thrown into sharp relief how brilliantly each component flows with the other. On top of it all, the vocals add needed dimension and diversity to the album which keeps it moving smoothly without hitting any of the attempted roadblocks prepared by the genre’s inherent amount of monotony. The album’s title track, “Kingdom of Vanity” is exemplary of this–using deathcore-styled vocals alongside an atmospheric, melodic death metal atmosphere and a thrashy pace to create a blending of elements from complementary genres to create an immersive sound. Sure, the riffs and solos on their own aren’t perfect, nor are the drums remarkably technical or over-the-top with their speed, but together with the vocals, this track is an example of how this French band’s songwriting is simply second to none.
Intelligently crafted, sturdy death metal meets break-neck, jarring and pummeling trash and hardcore in Kingdom of Vanity, an album which is truly greater than the sum of its parts. With moments of limitless potential—held back by segments of minor stagnancy—this release is a brilliant and promising one from Right to the Void, a band whose forest of sound is one the listener should be anxious to lose themselves in.
For Fans Of: The Black Dahlia Murder, The Red Shore, Bel’Akor, Boreworm
By: Connor Welsh