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Lost and alone in the deafening ether, you realize the void isn't actually empty. Rather, it's maximal static: an absurd place (or state of mind, even) where cacophony reigns and all the knobs are turned to ten. A stimulating totality indeed, but ultimately monochrome and indecipherable, completely sans texture in its extremity. Music (art) is where you turn; specifically, extreme metal, or that which attempts to represent the void by recreating it. While music can never be stripped of its essential music-ness even in its most extreme forms, musicality and artisanship can be guided toward infinitely dense and unknowable territories. Enter Seattle-based Voidthone's sophomore full-length Kur, streaming exclusively in full below before its Friday release.

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A brightly-picked but otherwise eerie melody prepares the soundstage; a wavering intensity is born then dies. Soon after, it only takes two one-two-three-fours on the snare and kick to catalyze a heavily layered experiment of eviscerating vocals, blast beats, darting basslines, and hyper-technical guitarwork. Always knowing when to slow down, though, Voidthrone maliciously relish in the doomier moments on Kur, using them as lead-ins to masterful swaths of complex, churning black metal. Back and forth, your mind spins and your periphery closes in on a black, infinitely noisy vortex -- Voidthrone's music transforms into ethereal muzak as you begin to disengage from one presence in exchange for another.

Despite its complexity, Kur is both familiar and pithy. As an efficient use of time, the album wastes nothing delivering the golden tokens of black, doom, and death metal wrapped in an unforgiving atmosphere. It's a headspace where time loses its gradation -- your mind is working overtime to process this heightened intensity. All the while, almighty void-howls from vocalist Zhenya Frolov suck the breath from your chest like the vacuum of space, rendering you mute. Voidthrone create a prison into which you freely enter, one which retains you not by force but by hypnosis. There, visions of true darkness and despair are summoned and then pummeled upon captives in a most grandiose lightshow. The question remains, though: will you step even further into the void?

Think twice. To fully enter into the surreality that lies beyond conscious reality necessitates the full abandonment of self. Music -- extreme metal, in this case -- is mere pastiche. Our curiosity drives us toward this sort of noise, this kind of sonic input which can reorganize your inner wavelengths. Sometimes in life, though, things happen which destroy us -- death, failure, evil -- and it's only human we seek commiseration with the resultant emptiness. Because, emptiness too has something to say, it just can't say it alone: it needs us to speak. It needs us to die. Voidthrone writes the music of an afterlife we wish existed but doesn't -- turns out, the afterlife and all its horrors have been living with us all along.

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Kur self-releases on May 4th. Pre-orders can be placed via Bandcamp.

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A statement from the band:

Musically, Kur builds on Voidthrone’s previous release. It contrasts established, repeated central riffs and textures with the drawn-out onslaught of sounds unfamiliar to the listener. It is with this approach that we strive to master a very certain art: that of the journey from beginning to end, from substance to emptiness. This requires embracing the emotional lows equally well as the highs. We write what feels natural to channel, but unnatural in relation to mainstream extreme metal. Our goal is to create unique and dissonant music that retains traditional elements of our genre without a pretentious air.

Lyrically, the album is an exploration of isolation and desolation. The songs touch on utter psychological collapse; an untethering from the reality, society, self. Kur begins from the perspective of an everyman, focused on some MacGuffin of enlightenment -- religious, personal, scientific, universal, etc. As with any monkey paw story, there is a perverse result -- obsession, madness, and unholy subterfuge. The concrete narrative quickly melts away into expressionistic confusion and chaos. The meaning and music assimilate and fully delve into tones of frantic terror and seething psychological sickness.

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