PNEUMA HAGION – VOIDGAZER (Nuclear War Now! Productions)

An ancient evil is contemptuously unleashed on Pneuma Hagion’s disturbing and devastating debut full-length, ‘Voidgazer’, a nightmarish creation which summons the wrath of the cosmos and ushers forth the all-consuming darkness that inevitably awaits at the end of all things. There is no hope here, just utter emptiness to reflect the fragility and bleakness of human existence.

In the space of 26 soul-crushing, faith-devouring minutes, Pneuma Hagion snuffs out all light, awakening celestial chaos through monolithic mantras, otherworldly utterances and ghastly, anticosmic incantations. Strangulated, terrifying howls and chants roar across the aeons, voicing ominous forewarnings of imminent demise; rolling, thundering drums abetted by pulsating bass to provide a very prominent rhythmic backbone to proceedings, the recording blessed with an organic, wholesome production which allows every note space amid the maelstrom, the clanging bass and hammering drums as active in setting the mood as the versatile, often doomy, sometimes rapid-fire riffs.

The depraved mind behind, ‘Voidgazer’, known as R,  is involved in a vast array of other bands and projects (Endless Disease, Excantation, Hordes of the Morning Star, Intestinal Disgorge, Liquid Viscera, Profundum, The Howling Void, to mentions just some), Pneuma Hagion surely the darkest of the lot. While R recorded all prior material (including the outstanding 2018 demo compilation, ‘Trinity’) on his own, for this album, which ups the ante in the darkness stakes, he is joined by S (Urosepsis, Excantation) on drums.

Skilfully-crafted and -executed, ‘Voidgazer’ utilises a myriad of tempo changes – often shifting gear more than once within a single song – to engage the listener and keep things interesting, malevolence always to the fore and with an omnipresent sense of dread and doom pervading. In some respects, the music is akin to a rawer, more-stripped-back and more essential Incantation or Immolation, harrowing lovecraftian Death Metal horror invoked through scorn, nihilism and despair from the deepest underground and the darkest of minds.

An abrupt ending never seemed more pertinent.

Evilometer: 666/666