The Atheist

Three Eyes of the Void

Astounding atmospheric black metal from Ukraine.
January 2, 2024

THREE EYES OF THE VOID is the ideological vision of Ukrainian artist Dmytro Kvashnin. Coming six years after their debut EP "The Moment of Storm", "The Atheist" is atmospheric black metal at it's best: a soaring, painful exploration of what it means to be human, the constant struggle between what is right and wrong and how the latter seems to always win. It comes as no surprise that something as powerful as these six songs comes from the heart of someone whose country is currently under siege.  Kvashnin is showing first-hand the pain and futility of war, be that an existential battle with one's self, or the very real battle of the smell of bombs and feel of rubble.  Combine these two together and it is a wonder that anyone can survive this kind of real trauma.

But black metal isn't always about the trauma of blood and guts.  At it's best it's an internal struggle between the person you want to be and the person you actually are.  It's the acknowledgement that all of us, from the inception of the genre at its most cartoonish- are just mirror images of Satan- or, at the very least, are capable of some really, really evil shit. Not to personalize the analysis of this album, but to give you a sense of the nerve THREE EYES OF THE VOID hit, after two listens around a meandering path just north of the Dismal Swamp, this writer was moved to near tears.  None of us think that rock bottom is near, or if there even is a rock bottom, but when you hit it, it hits harder than you'd ever feel.  "The Atheist" feels like that: it feels like your body being dropped unceremoniously to the damp, concrete floor of rock bottom, and how your mind and soul adjusts to that.  There are moments in the album of just sheer sorrow, and then those will be punctuated by short blasts of hope and acceptance.  It's the hand reaching out for help, fingers grasping towards nothingness.

Nine-minute opus "Beyond the Stars" starts with a shimmering guitar, the final glimpse of sunlight before the fall from grace. Like the orange blanket draped across the horizon as the sun sets and darkness envelopes the world, cold, doom-driven guitars, drums and bass enter the sonic picture and the fall begins. By the time the black metal hits, you are in free fall.  Dmytro Kvashnin's vocals are pained and shrill, but carry a heft to them that leaves them not so much abrasive as contemplative.  Second song "Against the One" is a wild fury of tremolo-picked guitars, furious blast beats, and propulsive cymbal work.  Arkadiusz Niziolek's drumwork is a highlight of the album, never over-powering the melodies but definitely adding the general malaise. The mid-tempo breakdown showcases some fabulous rolls that transition back into the fury of the fall, and "Against the One" carries on where the opening song left off.  It's knowing you are falling.  It's feeling the sides of the well against your fingers, the smell of fungus and rot enveloping you, feeling that metaphysical death reaching up for you. "Descent" maybe the strongest track on the album, as it seems to encapsulate everything the band does well. If "Against the One" was the sound of someone trying to stave off the fall, "Descent" is the tascent acceptance that there can be nothing done about it. A lopping 6/8 melody lays the foundation for some astounding clean vocals from guest-vocalist Andriy Tkachenko that sound as if they are coming from beyond the stars, to steal a metaphor from the band itself. A despairing wail from a saxophone compliments the vocals, buried in the melody before the band blasts off again with a flurry of pain. It's a malent: the acceptance that your poor-decisions are not only bringing you down, but those around you as well.  And that's the hardest part of all when it comes to rock bottom.

In ways, the band conjures up elements of DISSECTION, and even BLUT AUS NORD to some extent, but without the dissonance and anger of those bands.  That's not to say THREE EYES OF THE VOID isn't angry- anger is inherent to the genre, after all- but the band is, at its most magnificent about sadness.  Last song "The Atheist", while deceptively triumphant, has a riff-heavy melody at it's rotten core, and it represents the end of the beginning (or is it the beginning to the end?).  After all, if one is feeling the cold stone of rock bottom against your bloodied back, is there anyone to blame but yourself?  Does it make sense to shake your hands at a god who clearly doesn't exist, or if he did, one that clearly doesn't give a shit about us or anyone else?  "The Atheist" is a metaphysical struggle. There are some magnificent guitar licks on showcase here, that may imply that there's always hope.  Whether that's true or not is up to each one of us individually and what we can do to begin the process of climbing back up that well. By the time the song ends, it's as if Dmytro Kvashnin has reached into your soul and ripped out your beating heart.

"The Atheist" is a triumphant piece of work.  Perhaps for this writer it just seemed to come at the right time during a particularly intense fall to the bottom of the well, one I haven't quite reached yet.  But it does what only truly great black metal can: it speaks to the internal pain that's impossible to articulate, and with that it offers solace from the pain.  And for that you can be eternally grateful. Hopefully, as the clouds of war disintegrate over the beautiful country of Ukraine and it's people can forage their way out from rock bottom into a new peace and prosperity, THREE EYES OF THE VOID will be there to continue offering sonic refuge from the trauma we find so difficult to put into words.



10 / 10









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"The Atheist" Track-listing:
  1. Behind the Stars
  2. Against the One
  3. Descent
  4. No More Light
  5. Delirium
  6. The Atheist
Three Eyes of the Void Lineup:

Dmtryo Kvashnin- Vocals, guitars

Arkadiusz Niziolek- Drums



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