Over the years, horror-film director John Carpenter has earned almost as much acclaim for his music as for his classic movies. He has been responsible for much of the horror genre’s most striking soundtrack work in the fifteen movies that he has both directed and scored. So, it is only kind of befitting that the new Swedish sci-fi metal outfit, TERRAVOID, cite him as an influence. The band released their debut EP, “Ectogenesis,” on March 3rd, 2021, and this 4-track outing rather proficiently blends a dystopian and somewhat Carpenter-like atmosphere with the prog-tinted metal blasting of bands such as NEVERMORE and STRAPPING YOUNG LAD, as well as the experimental dark ambient of LUSTMORD. Listening to the EP before going to sleep might invoke rather unsettling dreams in which surreal Terminator movies play out on your home street, backed by the electrifying thunder of old-schoolish guitar riffs and the sermons of a metal hierophant on the inevitable doom, with a distinct Devin Townsend-esque fervor. So, the EP begs just one question: what is there not to like?
Apparently, the band has released the EP via their own label Liminal Spaces Distribution. The name refers to the aesthetics of a place that resonates with the thick air of nostalgia, dreams, or something in-between two planes of reality – but with a somewhat unsettling appeal. It sounds like the usual horror movie trope, doesn’t it? It is quite obvious that this Swede isn’t taking his one-man game lightly and the further you submerge yourself into the unholy miasma oozing from the EP, the more this impression intensifies. “Sonic interference on a liminal scale,” goes the label’s slogan and it is quite spot on, indeed.
The EP opens with a piano motif that triggers an instant ATOMIC ROOSTER flashback – but when the guitars kick in, the mood swings suddenly more towards SLAYER. Down to the signature, glissando swooping of the theremin, fluttering in the background as though on a vintage sci-fi movie soundtrack, the song “Through Dead Eyes” is endearingly old-school. The ominous riffs build real tension in tandem with the lyrics depicting a clouded, war-torn world seen through lifeless eyes. In a way, the dystopian atmosphere is strongly reminiscent of the 2010 PS4 game, Metro 2033, in which the player navigates the cramped tunnels below the bombed-out future Moscow, being chased by other-worldly mutants.
The title track, ”Ectogenesis,” zooms in on the hot topic of artificial birth. Although TERRAVOID‘s take on the subject is a tad less cute compared to, say, the “Norman Reedus with the amazing fetus” approach of the 2020 Hideo Kojima blockbuster game, Death Stranding. The song poses the penetrating question, “When science has turned to a dream, who is there to wake you up?” In terms of music, the song is a relentless 5½ minute butt-whooping which, given the rather controversial subject, is more than appropriate. The vocal delivery channels the theatrics of Devin Townsend as well as the vehemence of Tom Araya, underpinning the dystopian horror aesthetics of the song and the EP as a whole.
The remaining two tracks on the EP employ similar tactics in creating a sense of unease – dissonant horror motifs, relentless drum assaults, and vocals that resonate with the air of an occult high priest giving a sermon on topics such as DNA manipulation and the dark age of humanity in some clandestine conclave of dissidents. Lyrically, the EP is pure Wachowski Brothers stuff (the duo behind the ground-breaking movie, Matrix). Musically, the modern-day science-fiction fans may be more attuned to glitchy industrial metal, whereas TERRAVOID drinks a bit more deeply from the river of old-school metal. Such astylistic approach plays no small part in setting the unique and intriguing atmosphere for the EP. This new Swedish band of science-fiction metal arrives at the scene with a fully articulated style and code of conduct that feels like a fresh gust of wind, totally worth checking out.
Written by Jani Lehtinen
- Through Dead Eyes
- Reaching the Unexplored
- Error Endeavors
Oliver Palmquist – vocals, programming, samples
Nino Vukovic – guitars
Liminal Spaces Distribution