Ov Hollowness – The World Ends
Release: LP, 2013 (code666)
Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal
Sonic Brethren: Austere, Woods of Desolation, Wild Hunt
As cliché and worn out as the trend of one man black metal projects is, it just doesn’t seem to be going away. These solitary souls run the gamut from depressive, suicidal fare to some of the most melodic and symphonic offerings in the genre, so you never quite know what you’re going to get sonically – not to mention production-wise. So I’m always a bit hesitant when I read about a release from one of these bedroom BM endeavors, as the image of an antisocial, ProTools wielding Xasthur clone immediately pops up. And having the f-v substitution in your name doesn’t do much to quell uneasiness.
But what I found in Ov Hollowness’ third full-length was a refreshing sojourn into the genre’s more digestible side, and it’s clear main man Mark R. has studied his compatriots closely and done what he can to overcome their weaknesses. The World Ends is unique in that it’s black metal more in aesthetic than in execution. Sure, the rasps and tremolos are certainly present but it’s clear the project isn’t limiting itself to any strict definitions. The foremost difference is the clarity and depth of the production, one that’s absolutely massive when compared to just about every other lone wolf project. With a wall of thick guitars that never lets up and low end almost worthy of a Devin Townsend album, Mr. R. clearly pens his tracks with the recording process in mind. It’s easy to dock points for fairly typical programmed drums, but they’re subtle and low enough in the mix to put the focus elsewhere and don’t distract from the overall atmosphere.
And atmosphere is something there’s plenty of, with each instrument standing powerfully on its own and creating a broad and dynamic listening experience as Mark’s voice ranges from bombastic to grim. You never know what you’re going to get with each song, it’s an album that loves keeping you on your toes and constantly surprises and intrigues. The titular track has a particularly epic feel, doing away with any sort of kvlt intentions and bringing to mind recent Primordial efforts being played with a heavy metal sentiment; wonderful chugging abounds.
The album is strong, but a few missteps hold back its effectiveness and make you wonder if a few other decision makers added to the mix wouldn’t help, but such is the price of working alone. The finale of “Abstractive” is confounding, coming to an end only to start up again then awkwardly fade out a minute later. And having a long, ambient outro isn’t necessarily a bad thing but when it’s simply samples thrown together and given the name “Outro” it essentially tells listeners not to bother with it. But in retrospective those book-ended gripes are minor and far enough apart to give them a pass when reflecting on this powerful and varied release from Canada’s newest BM force. The World Ends is a worthy addition to the one man black metal grimoire, standing above the rest by breaking molds. It’s out on code66 March 18th.
Final thoughts: Although the project would improve even more by adding a member or two, Mark R. impresses with his non-traditional production and willingness to experiment with his sound.