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Vipassi “Lightless” Album Review by Banyon G.

Vipassi band members scaled

This is the second album from progressive extreme metal band Vipassi.  It is a follow-up to their well-received E.P. Śūnyatā from 2017, an all-instrumental release that combined elements of progressive, technical and death metal together to form a highly technical listen that recalls bands such as Cynic, Atheist, Death, Obscura, Psycroptic, and Fallujah.

Lightless is also all-instrumental, but aside from the immoderate album cover, it is a step up from Śūnyatā in compositional style and emotional resonance.  While Śūnyatā had technical chops to spare, its overall feeling was more cluttered and claustrophobic compared to Lightless.   There were quieter passages amidst the controlled chaos, but I still felt that Śūnyatā was focused on highlighting the band’s instrumental dexterity and the complex aggression of the music.  Everything sort of blended together in a broth of nervous, kinetic energy.  That may be okay for some, but for others it can create listener fatigue after a while.

From the opening title track, Lightless sees the band creating a more nuanced and varied atmosphere with higher contrast between passages that are dark and light, fast and slow, reactive and calm.  The playing is still very dexterous, but there is more breathing space in the music.   I sense that there is more of an effort to use the highly technical playing as a tool for creating an emotive atmosphere, instead of just highlighting the complexity of the playing.  To me, this makes for more engaging listening.  It is like post-rock for extreme metal fans.   

Highly complex instrumental music such as will not be for everyone, and there were still times when I felt that the songs were blending into one another.  I wanted to hear more tonal and textural variety from one track to another.  Eventually some of that arrives in the final 3 songs where calm, dreamy landscapes explode into propulsive technical workouts, and switch back and forth.   I would have been happy if it stayed in the quieter zone for a longer stretch or gone in a different direction entirely.   But the band does have a signature sound and style, and they seem content with that.   

Vipassi’s members hail from Australia, France and the UK, with are all virtuoso players from such acts as Ne Obliviscaris, Black Lava, Hadal Maw, Virvum, A Million Dead Birds Laughing, and more.    The new album Lightless will appeal to fans of these other bands as well as anyone into extreme progressive instrumental music.   Lightless has a lot to offer and yields new layers with repeated listens.   The songs are dense and complex, but they do take you on a journey and for the most part it is a riveting one. 

Rating: 8/10

Pre-order:https://shop.season-of-mist.com/list/vipassi-lightless

Vipassi album cover

Tracklisting:

01 Lightless 5:06
02 Labyrinthine Hex 7:11
03 Morningstar 6:57
04 Shapshu 4:22
05 Phainesthai 5:49
06 Ruination Glow 6:04
07 Neon Rain 3:58
08 Promethea 10:37

Lineup
Daniel Presland – Drums
Ben Boyle – Guitars & Synths
Arran McSporran – Fretless Bass
Benjamin Baret – Guitar Solos

Recording Studio
Bushido Studios in Melbourne, Australia
Additional recording in Gandia, Spain and Bordeaux, France.

Sound Engineer
Troy Mccosker

Mixing and Mastering Engineer
Mark Lewis

Artwork
Xenoyr

Vipassi is a world spanning instrumental extreme metal band from Australia, France and the UK, with members from such acts as Ne Obliviscaris, Black Lava, Hadal Maw, Virvum and more.

The band began as a project between Daniel Presland (Drums) and Ben Boyle (Guitars) as far back as 2007 to explore new concepts and sounds not currently engaged by their projects at the time.

Since then the band has grown and expanded to an international connection of like-minded musicians and virtuoso’s in Arran McSporran (Fretless Bass) and Benjamin Baret (Guitars).

New album ‘Lightless’ sees the band expanding on their sound into even more technical and experimental realms since their 2017 debut ‘Sunyata’, pushing the limits of their own ideas and abilities to heights unimagined when the band began all those years ago.

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