Vacant Eyes – A Somber Preclusion Of Being
Vacant Eyes trace its timeline back to 2011. Formed in Massachusetts, they have expanded to a six-piece unit producing melodic funeral, death, and doom music that questions the very existence of life. Mixing in progressive and technical metal elements, they expand to new frontiers on this record, creating a vast soundscape of gloomy, melancholic tones meant to give the listener pause as they contemplate the universe and their place in it.
- Josh Moran – Vocals/Guitars/Cello
- Alex Smith – Guitars/Backing Vocals
- Mike Bessette – Guitars
- Eric Gemborys – Bass
- Chris Kudukey – Drums
- Mark Richardson – Keyboards
Vacant Eyes independently released A Somber Preclusion Of Being on September 4, 2020.
- A Colorless Eternity
- A Timeless Vault
- Induced Desolation
- Apparitions Of Existence
- An Essence Of Anguish
- Into An Empty Dream
The album opens with “A Colorless Eternity,” a slow, sludgy track that runs almost 17 minutes. The rhythm is stoic, almost challenging you to reduce the speed with which you live your life. There are some excellent progressive movements in this song. Not massive time signature changes or anything like that, just shifts in rhythm speed and the song’s feel. Lyrically, they question whether time and life are truly connected. The blankness of the void that expands to eternity is a monochromatic expanse that never ends, though all of us do. The lead work on the guitars and the atmospheric keyboards drives this track. While providing the tempo and setting the foundation, the bass and drums are more accents built into the composition’s texture, which is pretty amazing since those are supposed to be the backbone instead.
The shortest track on the disc is “A Timeless Vault.” At just under nine minutes, that is pretty astounding. This track has a faster tempo from the start. The drums propel this one at the onset. The guitars are sludgy goodness covering that beat. The downturn in tempo is subtle and executed well. Everything slows, not just the rhythm. There is also an uptick near the middle of the song. The variances in the tempo give this one different texture. Shifting to acoustic guitar tones it down, only to have the electric guitars return and take the song back to the initial heaviness.
“Induced Desolation” is a study of the beauty of existence in a void of nothingness, where time and life and death mean nothing. Back to the slower tempo, the rhythm has a comforting consistency through the first quarter of the song. There is an increase in the drum tempo that does not see a corresponding speed change from the guitars. This increases the tension in the music, giving it a bit more dread, less doom. This is also the last track under 12 minutes.
There are dark, ambient keyboard tones to open “Apparitions Of Existence.” This is followed by melancholic guitar tones and some underlying strings. Lyrically, this one is dreary and morbid, wondering if mankind is wasting their time on Earth by futilely dreaming of anything. It takes a long time to get to the point where the guitars shift into power mode. The drums amp up, and the song’s vibe goes more towards the uselessness of hope, only to drop back out and remind us that the void is pervasive and cannot be escaped.
For “An Essence Of Anguish,” we make a trip down misery lane. Darkness will envelop everything, including those things we hold dear. For a change of pace, we have upbeat keyboards, though they stay within the pace of the song, not getting too happy. The solemnity of the guitar work during the interlude is beautifully representative of the feelings of anguish felt by humanity as they fade into nothingness. The whispered vocals reinforce that before the riff comes washing back over us with a darkened fury.
The album closes with “Into An Empty Dream.” There are some interesting guitar leads in this one, going into the higher register and using a lot of little flourishes. The tones are almost alien on the disc but work well within this composition. It’s that little light in the darkness, though it will eventually be swallowed by the void. The haunting clean vocals later in the song only exacerbate the melancholy felt as we slowly edge our way towards the eternal darkness of the void.
There is no happiness on this record. There might seem to be a few bright spots, but they are just the false hope humanity holds onto for dear life, all while hurtling towards non-existence. Six songs take over one hour to complete. This is doom as it was meant to be, slow, methodical, and patient. The void will always be there, waiting as we slowly creep towards it, only to disappear in its’ loving embrace. There is a lot to explore on this disc. The lyrical content is only part of the overall theme. The nuanced shifts and the gentle changes in the pattern all build up to a magnificent funereal, doom-laden structure that allows you to inhabit the void with the assuredness of knowing your existence meant nothing. Still, since nothing matters, this is normal.
Vacant Eyes build a fortress of darkness that is welcoming, even though nothing is there to welcome you. The whole album is full of ethereal tones, haunted themes, ambient sensory inputs, and desolate textures that will leave you wondering why you were ever born. There is no hero on an epic journey, just you, heading for blackness, emptiness. Welcome to the end of everything.
- Guitars – 9
- Rhythms – 9
- Vocals – 9
- Songwriting – 9
- Production – 9
- Overall – 9