This album proved to be a huge but welcome surprise for me, both in its scope and presentation. I have no previous experience with Ingurgitating Oblivion but I do enjoy the technical death metal genre a lot: it constantly pushes boundaries and out of all the extreme music styles it seems to be the subgenre that is consistently the most interesting and the most willing to take risks. This is why a band like Ingurgitating Oblivion can exist; it is the only reason that triumphantly challenging albums like Vision Wallows in Symphonies of Light even get made.
Jazz-infused death metal is not really an accurate enough description of this release but it’s going to have to do as a starting point. The album is chock full of churning and moaning passages that become so dense and claustrophobic at times they threaten to blot out the sun. Even though this is heavily jazz-influenced and feels free-form much of the time, the underlying structure and rhythms are still straightforward enough that you can easily follow the band.
The album opens with the definitive song “Amid the offal, abide with me”, a mammoth mid-paced tune that threatens to strangle the life out of your stereo. Crawling out from underneath murky samples and atmospherics the band waste no time in dishing out mathematically playful riffs and quick blasts. This soon winds down into a serpentine set of rhythms and brilliant drum work around the two-minute mark. Balancing the shifting sounds on this album to achieve maximum impact is a key area that the band has mastered.
This is where we get to see the excellent drumming and bass work come to the forefront as the band try and create a dense sense of impending dread before they eventually blast into full head crushing gear. Sharing a drummer with Defeated Sanity works in their favor, however, I was shocked at the stamina that is displayed by each member, in particular the drummer of another band known for playing primarily shorter songs. Thankfully these incredibly epic compositions allow their audience some breathing room, a little moment to right oneself from the strangeness that embodies Ingurgitate Oblivion’s latest journey.
One of my favorite moments of the record is the delicate drumming, rolling bass lines and clean guitar pluckings that start off second track “A mote constitutes to me what is not all, and eternally all, is nothing”. The airiness is a welcome reprieve from the mania only a few moments earlier. These strange, convoluted song titles are sure to be considered pretentious and off-putting by many death metal genre purists. The shame is that many fans of death metal are likely to pass this up in favor of more obviously and immediately gratifying albums. Vision Wallows in Symphonies of Light takes some time and a few listens to even begin to absorb.
Willowtip Records is known for releasing some of the best records the underground death metal scene has to offer, often standing behind some extremely brave albums. Vision Wallows in Symphonies of Light fits those descriptions perfectly. Coming in at only four tracks long, this is still considered a “full length” as it is a long player, with each song generally taking around 10 minutes at minimum to complete. Track after track listeners are greeted to superb playing and technique coupled with intelligent and artsy songcraft.
Ingurgitate Oblivion is often likened to Gorguts, Ulcerate and Deathspell Omega, but I would offer that these three comparisons, though accurate charges, still fall short. It is arguable, though, that these guys are doing something they can call entirely their own. Defying the odds and standards of the death metal genre is not the safest game to play, I mean who wants to potentially alienate new fans by trying to break a well-established mold? It’s not a dare most artists or labels are willing to lose, however, when the efforts and output more than match and far exceed the promise of what will be delivered you can get a truly magical recording.
Bottom Line: Satisfying in ways that aren’t really explainable but better felt and heard, Vision Wallows in Symphonies of Light, Ingurgitate Oblivion’s 2017 offering, is a magnum opus of genre challenges and style defiance. Trying to wrap your mind around what these masters of the time signature and moody atmospherics create is no easy job. The trick is to never take for granted anything that is being played and never anticipating anything, at least not truly conventional song writing or song structures.