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Pneuma Hagion - Voidgazer [Nuclear War Now! - 2020]

Five years after their demo hit the world, Pneuma Hagion is back with their debut full length, Voidgazer.  Again joining forces with Nuclear War Now!, this one man band (!) blasts and churns forth grim and bleak death worth gazing into the void for. From the hand drawn cover art to the grimy tracks within, Voidgazer shows that heavy, old school death is timeless and unstoppable.

Tantalizingly temporific, Voidgazer alternates between swift, propulsive blasts and deep, heavy breakdowns. This serves a dual purpose of keeping the thunderous chug from getting stale and allowing the juxtaposition to accentuate the speed/sludge of the opposite.  Nine tracks of black, meaty death, Pneuma Hagion is an impressive debut, no doubt, but even further highlighted by the fact that it's a solo project. Starting with the many-paced "Aeons of Slumber," Voidgazer lulls the listener into a false sense of doom security before opening up the void and allowing the blasting beasts of the abyss to spill forth. The breakdowns are structured such that they aren't grooves, but one can still get down to them. A fun opener, it sets the stage for the remaining eight tracks to act as a brutal time warp. Reminiscent of early/mid 90's albums by Suffocation and Immolation, the vileness here is warm and welcoming (haha probably the opposite of what was intended). Heavy bass and low guitars create a murky stew in which the drums frantically bubble and boil as the fire heats the cauldron below. Missing the trademark shrieking high solos of the classic era, Voidgazer remains grim from start to finish, and is only brightened by the occasional church bell or other random sample. The vocals are true to form, harsh and shouted, and often have a doubled effect which adds an interesting element to the mix. Overall, this is a very well put together album that is enjoyable from start to finish and stands up to multiple spins. Also, the artwork is wonderfully expressive and carries a charm that most new productions would skip over.

Pneuma Hagion's debut, Voidgazer, is nine tracks of bleak and black death metal fury. An impressive display of one man's talents, this full-length offering hearkens back to a simpler time when cover art had to sell an album. With that, Pneuma Hagion matches form and creates an album that would wind up in the hands of any metalhead walking by it at the record store.

Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5

Paul Casey
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