Supervoid – Endless Planets EP (self-released, 11 November 2012)
Good afternoon, all you fine people! How are things where you are? Here it’s been rainy and nasty, and of course it’s Monday which is never good, but I’m actually feeling pretty good. For one thing, the day’s over, which means I get to go home. But mostly, I’m starting to feel healthy again!
You may have noticed things have been quiet around here for a while. Part of the reason is all the normal crap that keeps me busy and unable to write as often as I’d like to. But a bigger part — at least for the past two weeks or so — is the fact that I have felt like absolute garbage. My normal yearly sinus infection, which tends to completely drain my energy and make my whole body tired and sore for a few weeks (plus my chest, throat, nose and sinuses feeling congested and clogged — which is miserable enough as it is, but also makes it tough for me to listen to music because my ears don’t work right and my head hurts from feeling stuffed up and in general I’m in a very foggy and cloudy state). But I’ve been to the doctor and got some antibiotics, and they’ve finally started taking effect over the past day or two, so I definitely feel like I’m on the road to recovery.
I’m still pretty exhausted and blah, but no more than on any other workday. So, hooray for just feeling marginally lousy, rather than completely and utterly terrible! BUT ENOUGH ABOUT ME.
With a few exceptions, I’ve really been slacking as far as writing anything here, and I’ve been especially remiss in my duties to share new music with you readers. Here it is, nearly the end of the year, and I’ve got a virtual stack of music I’ve yet to write about, which figuratively is towering over me as I sit here. I’d better get moving!
Here, for example, is something that I’ve been hanging onto for the past few weeks, and kept meaning to write about and share with you — because it’s a really incredible discovery, and I sure hope you all aren’t upset that I didn’t tell you about it sooner!
Endless Planets is the debut release from a relatively new band from the Pittsburgh area called Supervoid. Formed in 2011 by a couple Dethlehem ex-pats, and current and/or former members of several other bands across the region, the band decided to take time to perfect their style of space-rock/stoner/psychedelic/prog-metal before revealing themselves to the public. (By the way, check out this interview with The Sludgelord for more information about the band’s formation and their journey up to this point in their career.)
They had their debut performance at the end of August, and a few more shows since then, attracting a good bit of attention in the local music scene along the way. During that time, the band got together at Pittsburgh’s Treelady Studios to lay down some demo tracks — which they then decided to release in the form of this two-song EP.
Clocking in at around sixteen minutes, Endless Planets serves as a great introduction to Supervoid, as it showcases the band’s talent and is representative of the range they span as performers and songwriters. Plus, it’s available to download for free, so you have no reason not to grab yourself a copy — and once you do, you’ll understand why everyone who has seen this band has been so impressed, and you’ll find yourself anxiously watching to see where this quintet is heading next…
The first song of the EP, “Arcane Groves,” is a nearly-ten-minute-long exploration, starting out with about minute or so of noodly back-and-forth spacey licks between the two guitars, then kicking into overdrive with some fuzzy, stonery riffage. All of this sounds well-done and manages to hold the listener’s interest well enough, but out of nowhere these enormous, soaring vocals cut through everything. The singing just explodes into the song much in the same way as the opening of 3 Inches of Blood‘s Long Live Heavy Metal album or perhaps Lo-Pan‘s Salvador. Not that the vocals here sound exactly the same as either of those bands, but the singing is so clear and piercing, which will really grab you and make you take notice!
Almost immediately, there is a switch to a more growled style of vox for the ‘chorus’ section. The rhythm of the riffs here, coupled with the harsher vocal style, somehow bring to my mind the White Zombie song “I am Legend.” Then the band circles back around to the same type of dreamy, noodly guitars from the song’s intro. These sections all repeat a second time, at which point we’ve reached approximately the halfway point of the song.
Here, everything switches to a mellow, spacey, funky groove. The bassline in particular stands out to me during this section, seeming rather Flea-esque (but not a straight-up funk bassline, but drawing on that sort of a background — like one of his band’s more mellow, introspective, darker songs from the mid-90s), and seems to take center stage with the drums, while the guitars tend to circle around each other.
By the time we’ve reached eight minutes in, the song kicks into a heavier, mid-tempo stoner metal riff. This repeats several times (as one might expect), and by the last time through (about 8:45) the guitars and bass are playing in unison, somehow coming to resemble the tone of Jon Lord‘s distorted organ playing. Briefly we revisit the growly vocals, as the song then fades away.
This is followed by “Wake of the Smoke Jumper,” also a fairly long song at just under seven minutes, but feeling much shorter by comparison.
The song opens with some gutteral growled vocals, similar to the ending of the preceding track, for a little under a minute, but then it cuts to a stripped-down, cleaner part. Again demonstrating their range, the band alternates these two parts, soon adding another huge piercing vocal part over top of it all.
One thing I’d like to point out is the unnatural amount of vocal talent that’s featured here, which is made even more amazing upon seeing the band perform live. Aside from some growled/rasped backing parts provided by one of the guitarists, all of the other vocals are done by the same person — and it’s pretty impressive to witness how effortlessly he switches between the various styles, sounding just as good on stage as it does on the recording.
Anyway, around the middle of the song we’ve come back to a clean vocal part, but here it sounds more distant, almost shimmery — not unlike Tool‘s version of “No Quarter” (although the growled vocals that immediately follow, and the slow, chuggy, heavy riffs more closely resemble the Crowbar version of the same song. I guess it goes without saying, but how can something that sounds like equal parts Tool and Crowbar be anything other than awesome??
Just before the five minute mark, we get a new riff in the guitars (which is now accompanied by tambourine), again bringing to mind an old-school distorted organ part à la Jon Lord.
More growly/raspy vocals come in, and then everything gets smothered in a bit of guitar feedback, and then it’s over.
From the very first time I heard these two songs, they really dug their claws into my brain; incredibly catchy and memorable, especially considering the long, progressive format they each follow. As I said before, you won’t regret checking into Supervoid — and in fact, chances are you’ll find yourself just as mesmerized as I have been, and wanting more!
Well, if that’s the case, you’re actually in luck. Not only is this EP available to download for free, but the band’s recent live performance of both of these songs (and a handful of others) is now available on their Youtube channel!