Don’ t let the cover fool you; Kur, the second album from Seattle-based five-piece Voidthrone, is dark. Though its fairly short, being only 24 minutes long, the unconventional black/death metal onslaught contained within the EP is more than enough to conjure visions of worlds falling to oblivion, swept away under a cataclysmic tide of blackness. Though the band may recall a host of influences – including, but not limited to, Deathspell Omega, Batushka, Gorguts, and Morbid Angel – at no point do they ever sound like anyone other than themselves, making Kur an incredibly potent and impressive EP, that doesn’t so much cross over genres as it does defy them completely.
This might sound like high praise – and that’s because it is. Kur is a record that is unafraid to break the mold, taking in influences and textures that are atypical for world-ending metal. There are progressive touches buried beneath the surface of this transcendent violence, most notably on closer ‘Their Recursive Communion’, which moves like the bastard spawn of atonal French black metal, Ulcerate, and Oranssi Pazuzu. The subtle sense of grace and poise makes Kur feel all the more impressive in its violence and devastation, as if demonstrating that the destruction unleashed by the album is a conscious choice rather than the result of primitive barbarism.
Though, as you might hope, there is plenty of depraved, bone-headed primitivism to Kur too. For all the technical skill and intelligent song-writing on display (of which there is plenty), there are also plenty of obvious moments to latch on to, with movements that demand a response from something buried deep within our DNA. This call to violence and death comes across as if it is being issued from something that is integral to humanity, recalling on some level those antediluvian times when the physical act was all. It is an EP that achieves that often-sought but rarely achieved act, of crafting music that is both forward-thinking and regressive, of appealing to the head as much as to the gut; of stimulating the intellect whilst simultaneously denying it.
As such, it’s also an EP that, for all that I have written here, makes a review feel slightly superfluous. Kur is a record that will either connect with you on a deep, almost spiritual level; or one that will leave you cold, not so much unmoved by its horrors, but perhaps numbed by them. The only true test of music such as this is to throw yourself into the maelstrom without reservation, to pit yourself against the nightmare it conjures; and doing so is something I highly recommend. Voidthrone have created something very special here, that stays true to the apocalyptic spirit of extreme black/death metal whilst also possessing a character and sound of their own.