Vipassi’s Instru-Metal Debut
Vipassi is a super group. The Australian four-piece features members from A Million Dead Birds Laughing, Hadal Maw, and Ne Obliviscaris, and their collective seasoning comes together perfectly on their Season of Mist debut, Sunyata. Featuring dark and brooding atmospheric metal interspersed between truly unrelenting blast beats and mathy riffs, Sunyata is the instrumental tech metal album we’ve all been waiting for.
The album starts with ominous bells and whirling susurrus before launching into its aural onslaught. “Gaia,” the opener, begins the album well–hinting at the chaos to come before washing into Sunyata‘s first single, “Benzaiten.” “Bensaiten” starts with the energy “Gaia” and introduces to it a bassy “waltz” to the mix. I use quotations because Vipassi refuses to stay in a single time signature for very long. The complexities the band weaves into their songs is staggeringly beautiful.
Listening to the bands that have come together to form Vipassi, it’s easy to hear the various sounds they bring to Sunyata. Whether it’s Ne Obliviscaris’ atmospheric black metal or A Million Dead Birds Laughing’s grinding thrash, Vipassi has found a balance to its components to make an album that has both ethereal beauty and frantic riffs. And this balance allows the band to craft and discard stunning moments as their songs progress. Sunyata uses less the song as its principle mode of structure and instead relies heavily on creating musical passages that sparkle to the surface before descending back into the depths.
And no where is this more apparent than the combination of “Sum” and “Elpis.” “Sum” spins energetic, using fills to disrupt its beginning rhythms before washing into a progression that is rivalled only by Deafheaven’s “Vertigo.” The song fades into “Elpis” such that the tracks seem to be cut from the same groove. That said, “Elpis” seems to be structured such that it flits back and forth between tremolo picking and metallic rolls. The result is a song that circles itself as it grows.
Sunyata ends with “Samsara”–a brighter song than most of the tracks that come before it. Under its overwhelming blast beats a droning and soaring melody stitches the track’s disparate parts together. With solos and breakdowns that never linger beyond their welcome, “Samsara” ends the album on a high note, a reminder of the band’s metallic virtuosity. Slowing to crawl towards its ending, the track begs its listener to flip the record back over and start the song cycle again.
Vipassi has truly made something remarkable. Their debut album sends sparks of melodies through aggressive and churning rhythms. Sunyata is full of glittering moments and lightning quick turns. If you were worried about the state of tech metal in 2017, look no further than Vipassi to quell your anxious fears.