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La Morte Viene Dallo Spazio - Trivial Visions [Svart Records - 2021]

Adding to a vibrant Italian tradition of psychedelic rock and soundtrack bands, La Morte Viene Dallo Spazio are an 'open ensemble', currently with five members, that performs moody, spaced-out jams that bring churning black metal-esque distortions and gothic pads into the more dynamic world of midtempo space rock. Trivial Visions is their second full length, following 2018's Sky Over Giza.

With the grim influences of dark metal and ambient, the group has set out to create a new kind of 'occult' necro space rock, and succeeded spectacularly. The contrasting styles and sections are pleasantly complimentary, with the density of chugging metallic riffage providing a natural climax to the looser psychedelic sections. The band has an excellent sense of tension and release, knowing perfectly when to thin the sound and allow it to trail off, and when to bring the ferocity. I enjoy the inversion of the faux-profundity usually found in the psychedelic music scene found in the title, Trivial Visions.

Though the distortion has the ashy, stygian grimness that typifies black metal, the influences in the guitar style really reach further back into the 70's/80's classic hard rock and metal era, with a great deal more upbeat thrash riffs and hard rock power chords than modern dissonances. Stefano Basurto clearly prefers the momentum of galloping thrash muting to the constancy of black metal tremolo.

The drumming is rock solid, relaxing into simpler beats when the band is engaged in swirling feedback excursions, only to pound thunderously with near-blast beats and heavy double bass in the more metallic sections. The drummer is clearly on the same page as the guitarists when it comes to the influence of bands like Celtic Frost and Bathory, and yet possesses the ability to unwind into a flowing improvisatory minimalism never dreamed by these bands. In moments such as the 2nd half of "Cursed Invader", I could easily imagine I'm listening to a classic 70's krautrock LP, lost in a billowing cloud of textured noise, anchored only by the drums.

Though the entirety of the first piece is instrumental, there are some sparse vocals. Firstly, a kind of dissonant punky wail in chanted monotone in the title track "Trivial Visions", more in keeping with the noisier space rock bands than the metal influences found elsewhere in the band's sound. Later, a Siouxsie-esque female appears for the track "Ashes", with bluesy charisma unheard from the other vocalist. She appears one more time for the anthemic death rock closer, "Altered States". I wouldn't have minded hearing a few more tracks with her, and would have liked to hear her voice more clearly, particularly in the final tune, where it is overly masked with reverb.

The members are credited with several other instruments aside from the typical rock mainstays, such as the theremin, flute, sitar and synthesizer. These are certainly audible but used in a subtle fashion, appearing for a lead pattern here and there, far from the present the entire time. I find their use was clever and tasteful, enhancing the 'sci-fi' feel the band was going for and deepening the overall production, but it would be nice to hear some more organized harmonic writing, as what is heard feels a bit like noodling. Granted, this is not unusual for psychedelic rock.

La Morte Viene Dallo Spazio strikes a listenable balance between tuneful riff writing and abstraction and seems to cohere a great many gothic and psychedelic genres into one flowing experience. Though the band has yet to match the level of focused songwriting exhibited by their classic influences, perhaps their most memorable material is still to come, and the level of rhythmic momentum in their music would make for a great live show. I quite enjoyed their second album, Trivial Visions.

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

Josh Landry
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