When a young band describing itself as blackened death/doom has only got three releases to its name, but one of said releases is a split Bathory tribute with Ultha, deciding to pluck their debut full-length from the promo slush pile and give it a good listen is not exactly a tough call. As soon as I pressed play on Morast's Ancestral Void, I was hooked—there's a sort of unknown quality to this music that's difficult to pinpoint, but extremely appealing nonetheless. Ancestral Void reminds me of the first time I heard Faustcoven, who I still regard as one of the finest bands to ever successfully meld black, death, and doom metal into a cohesive, legible whole (though their choice in split collaborators is questionable). For what it's worth, Ancestral Void has already crept to the top of my menta "best albums of 2017" list.
Assumed touchpoints like The Ruins of Beverast, Bolzer, Necros Christos, and even Faustcoven fall just a bit flat here, as Morast steadfastly refuses to hew to any particular sound within the cannon of extremity. The doom element is obvious, of course—it's hard to miss the swaying, stoic tempo, the slow, steady percussion, or the aura of gloom that's settled over the whole production like dust and Spanish moss. The vocals—a dry, bitter croak—are pure, tortured black metal writ slow, while the sonorous, complex riffs borrow from the darkest of death metal. It's a moody, imposing album, and one with a certain elegance about it, too, despite (or perhaps because of) its sepulchral atmosphere.
Listen to Ancestral Void in full below—trust me on this one. The album is out 3/31 via Totenmusick and Ván Records.
Kim Kelly is staring into the void on Twitter.