London-based death metal band Vacuous is here to show you that primitive doesn’t always mean low and slow with your knuckles in the mud. Instead, "primitive" death metal in this case is more of a predefined destination whose founders have done some customization based on their sonic origins.

"We all come from fairly different musical backgrounds, whether it’s punk, grindcore, black metal, or more traditional heavy metal but we’ve somehow converged around playing primitive and 'old school' death metal," said drummer and vocalist Jo Chen.

"Staying within our genre, some of our influences are Incantation, Autopsy, Infester, Dead Congregation, Spectral Voice… but we try to keep the door open for whatever other individual influences we might have, as long as it’s dark, filthy and oppressive."



Vacuous began right as the first lockdown of March 2020 began, meaning the band has existed solely online by no choice of their own. Still, Chen said the band managed to write and release a demo within a month of forming, and quickly then followed themselves up with the Katabasis EP in November of the same year. "Given that we had very little else going in our lives at that period, we invested a crazy amount of time and energy in those 5 songs," Chen added.

Katabasis is the perfect cross-section between the chaos of a band like Of Feather and Bone, and the meticulously spacy death metal of Blood Incantation, though the band leans toward more psychological themes throughout Katabasis, whose name literally means "a descent of some type."

"The term 'Katabasis' comes from Greek mythology and signifies a descent into the underworld," said Chen. "On top of that, it’s also a term that has been used in modern psychology, to refer to a descent into one’s psyche and in particular depression."

"The overall concept of Katabasis is the exploration of the 'depths', whether it be a physical descent into an oppressive underworld, or into one’s own psyche. The songs tie in to this overall idea. There’s an element of horror and maybe even sci-fi to it, but we also want it to feel quite real and harrowing."

Oh, and if you've only got time for one song today, go listen to "Fermentation". It's Chen's favorite.

"It was the last song we wrote and I think it captures all the facets of what we do in one track. It’s got a really catchy main riff, some ridiculously fast blasting and takes the time to build a really dark and oppressive atmosphere."


Katabasis is available digitally through all streaming platforms, and on physical formats through both their Bandcamp page and F H E D. Vacuous is working on another release, though there's no concrete plans on any release timeframes or even length. They, like the rest of us, cannot wait to play a show.

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