Vacant Eyes - A Somber Preclusion Of Being

It takes a lot of patience to sit through anything that touches into the genre ‘funeral doom,’ and sometimes that listen through anywhere from 8 to 16 minute tracks is a total waste. Not so with Vacant Eyes and their second album, “A Somber Preclusion Of Being". There is a reason every track is so long- this group carries weight in their music, both in sound in emotion. They know how to dredge up a sense of sadness and depression and yet make it beautiful by offsetting the dreary guitar and guttural vocals with piano, bell chimes, and cello (though the cello tends to get buried in a lot of the music). Originally a one man band, this group has expanded to being a five piece group from Massachusetts and taken their death/ funeral doom sound further, so those who enjoy groups like Swallow The Sun, Draconian (minus the female vocals), or even ‘winter metal’ groups like Insomnium who know how to blend beauty with a cold sound will certainly find the music a long, but worthy listen.

As far as the structure goes, Vacant Eyes seem to follow a typical gothic tinged funeral doom formula- very long tracks such as the opening ‘A Colorless Eternity’ that hits heavy as hell with the riffs, slightly distorted bellows that feel like a ghost trying to get its point across, and sprinkles of piano sounding keyboard here and there before breaking into a somber, quieter guitar passage that really carries the depression and then just piano that seems to end the song… and then it picks up again with the heavier sections, faster and more melodic. Thankfully, the group does not let any particular section linger so the music flows well and doesn’t feel stagnant. Other tracks like ‘Into an Empty Dream’ feature clean vocals, also pushed into the background to create a rather ethereal effect and add to the doom haze atmosphere. The harsh vocals have a more terrifying effect in their distortion, but sometimes they feel more like they are just roaring versus conveying a dark story, especially on later tracks like ‘Apparitions of Existence’ which features rougher mixing and mostly instrumental work, which on one hand lets one really appreciate the instruments, but feels more like one long instrumental at the same time and the vocal elements are so sparse they probably could have been left out.

'An Essence Of Anguish' probably features the more typical doom laden riffs as the group goes for more heavier chugging and less beauty compared to some of the earlier tracks, and probably has the most funeral-doom sound of all. However, Vacant Eyes also experiment with their vocals more by adding distorted whispers, whose reverbs bring in new elements that the band hasn’t shown before, so that further enhances the music. Listeners will probably find this one a bit repetitive, but at first, but the guitar solos are worth it near the middle as they have that spiraling effect that really make one feel like they are being descended into madness. The clarity of each riff and even the drums is owed to Jens Bogren who has worked with groups like Katatonia and Opeth, so the melancholic atmosphere is certainly felt with the gothic overtones in most of the tracks without being swallowed up by too much distortion. As a result, “A Somber Precision Of Being” crushes but in a thoughtful way, making those who listen to really reflect on their own darker thoughts and tribulations. There is definitely a lot of sub doom genres mixed in, but in a good way so it feels like just the right kind of doom metal fruit salad to sink the ears into.

4 / 5 STARS 


1. A Colorless Eternity
2. A Timeless Vault
3. Induced Desolation
4. Apparitions Of Existence
5. An Essence Of Anguish
6. Into An Empty Dream

Self released
Reviewer: Colin McNamara
Sep 9, 2020

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