Sepulcros is a new band from Portugal, “Vazio” is their debut album, and what a debut this is. Sepulcros has not released a demo, nor split or EP that I could find. “Vazio” is their introduction to the world. “Vazio” was released by the ever-compelling Transcending Obscurity Records. The label has several bands on their roster reaching further and out of the death and doom metal spectrum with discerning approaches and ethos to satisfy most ardent Death-Metalheads and Doom-heads alike: Jupiterian, Towards Atlantis Lights, Et Moriemur, Officium Triste, and Eremit to name a few. My point is that Sepulcros is a nice addition to the label’s roster and fits well with this group.
Before first listen, and at first, glance, what will stand out to the listener is the cover by Mariusz Lewandowski, who at this stage of his career needs to introduction (forgive the cliché but, his work most certainly speaks for itself).
How does a new band with no prior music available land on Transcending Obscurity with a Lewandowski cover on their first outing? On the strength and weight of their music, that’s how.
Besides the intro and outro, both ritualistic tribal instrumentals from beyond, all songs are longer than seven minutes. These songs need time. Dragging the listener through the despair and horror represented in the cover is going to take a while – Sepulcros is after all dragging the weight of humanity’s empty platitudes and lip service in an eldritch suitcase with no wheels. It’s dreadful, crushing atmosphere for the whole family.
The band nails that perfect Death-Doom guitar tone. The rhythm guitars hammer heaviness, dragging out dying breath, while the lead guitars layer contemplative sadness cutting through dense cavernous bass and unearthly drums. The production finds a good balance between clean (audible instrumentation) and dirty in-your-face heaviness. The vocals are perfect for this music, it is varied when it needs to be to serve the songs. When they are guttural, they are deep, throaty, and powerful; when they need to be they are harsh, strong, but never shrieky. It fits the music so well.
I’ve seen many say Sepulcros play Death-Doom, to my ears they swing an interesting pendulum between Funeral Doom and Blackened Death Metal. Expansive droning chords and measured, restrained drumming are contrasted by tremolo picking and blast beats in ways that make the journey through the album not as laborious and patient as a lot of funeral doom requires. The faster passages at times remind me of Portuguese heavyweights Gaerea – chaotic, unhinged but never losing its compositional expanding thread.
It’s hard to pick a true standout track, as each has something unique to offer, even though they are all colored by the same palette. The one track that is memorable in that regard is “Hecatombe” – the sacrifice of many victims. It starts with a quiet, clean guitar buildup drenched in melancholy, leading the listener along the procession of these victims – us, humanity. The drums take center stage around the three-minute mark to remind the listener that mankind is not heading toward a peaceful and quiet eternal rest, there is much to atone for. Blasting snares remind us of the price we’ll pay for our complacency in empty lives. Vazio means empty in Portuguese after all.
Listen to “Vazio” and decide for yourself, are you resigning yourself to the horrors that await in the void, or is this an opportunity to fill the “vazio” inside and face your demos? Ultimately, this is what I appreciate about the slower side of metal – the opportunity for introspection. Either way, sink into Sepulcros and allow yourself to be crushed and ponder. (International Acrobat)