Well, I’ve been hungry for this. 2014’s Surrounded by Shadows is one of my favourite sludge/doom releases, making it high up on my end of year best of list for 2014. Over the years my appreciation for this superlative album has only grown, so has my desire to hear its follow up. That time has finally come.
Matter & Void contains 36 minutes of sludge, doom, post-metal, psychedelia, and outright crushing riffage. Yes, it’s almost half the length of Surrounded by Shadows, but don’t let that fool you; quality over quantity is the phrase here.
For such a relatively short release it has a lot going on. Across the playing time the band offer up progressive structures, sludge intensities, psychedelic explorations, layered vocals, crushing two-bassist attacks, calm reflection, a huge sound, pervading atmosphere, and many other forms of compelling delivery. Although certainly diverse and well-rounded, the album isn’t as potentially disjointed as these descriptive terms might imply; everything here is well-crafted and pieced together with the skill of people who know how to do a good job.
The well-written songs have plenty of catchy, memorable riffs and vocals, as well as less-instant appeal from the more slowly unfurling songs. The classic post-metal build/release mechanic, as done so well by bands such as Neurosis and Isis, is handled by Sorxe equally well, and they have a firm understanding of how to drive atmosphere and forge mood.
The album arguably becomes more epic and progressive as it advances through the playing time, with the longer songs finding home at the end of the running order, and the shorter, more upbeat ones living at the start. This provides a quite natural flow to the release, one that makes for an extremely satisfying listen.
Yes, Matter & Void hits the spot quite nicely. After rating their debut album so highly, I haven’t been disappointed at all by Sorxe’s latest effort. In fact, I’d tentatively say that this new album is the band’s best work yet, despite the fact that I would, ideally, have preferred another ten minutes or so of material. Quality over quantity though, I must remember. The music on Matter & Void is of the highest quality, which is definitely the most important thing.
An essential listen for anyone into textured, emotive, heavy, expressive music.