Cypriot black metal: not a widely-used term. To be honest, up until now I was not familiar with any BM bands hailing from the neighboring country. However, the time has come for one to occupy my interest, namely the one-man project Tome of the Unreplenished, its debut album “Innerstanding” out through I, Voidhanger records. The man behind the band is Hermes, concerning whom not much is known, besides the fact that he participates in the (also Cyprian) Necrosadist and RCO bands. Graced with a beautiful-yet-a-bit-”digital”-for-my-tastes cover artwork and a band logo which does not predispose the listener to black metal content, “Innerstanding”‘s music genre is not overtly apparent. Nevertheless , it is a music genre that fits elegantly with the framework of I, Voidhanger’s latest releases, a framework shaped by them (and perhaps shaping them as well, in an interactive way). I don’t know if one can term a strict “Voidhanger subgenre” per se on the present, but I get the feeling that it is a thing on the verge of being structured.
“Innerstanding” can be classified in the genre of atmospheric black metal that is of introspective/reflective quality, characterized by a cinematic attitude of sonicspaces creation. That is a thing evident in the Tomhet-esque intro “Anima Mundi”, gradually evolving in the next 3 tracks, and reaching its climax in the instrumental triad of tracks on the second part of the album. To achieve this, the compositional medium used is melodic and extensive riffs, imbued with an exploratory and wandering soul. A reluctant tour-de-force of the night-sky, and an animistic world-view (one can reason from the “Emanation of the Purest Essence” lyrics). Traditional black metal riffing is scarce, mostly giving way to blooming atmospheric guitar streams. Mastering and mixing expands the ensemble, providing lots of space and a sense of majesty. Minimalism does not thrive in this album.
The infrequent use of vocals keeps up with the musical approach of the band; vocals here are mostly low-profile narrative recitations, which are not clearly distinguishable from the core instrumental music – they can be considered as one more layer of riffing. This is a fact that in my opinion has not been well-implemented; the album could be quite effective as a wholly instrumental one, or otherwise, vocals could take a more active role. The slightly indolent way in which they [vocals] are embedded in the music ends up lukewarming them, as far as I am concerned. Moving onwards, atmosphere is the album’s strongest quality, especially in moments where fast-paced leads intertwine with distorted ambience (throughout “A monument in time” for example). Listen to the wonderful “The Processional March” finale, whose roots can be traced to Summoning, Elysian Blaze, and bands in between.
In “Innerstanding”, Tome of the Unreplenished have provided a more-than-decent debut album. A record instrumental in its core, it is recommended for those into vividly sonicspacing atmospheric music. This is not a grim or ominous album, neither I think that this what Hermes’ aimed for. An honest addition to the I, Voidhanger roster, Tome of the Unreplenished follow on the steps of Spectral Lore, Mare Cognitum, and Midnight Odyssey.