Label: Cyclopean Eye Productions
Review by Sythanagon
It’s troubling how difficult it seems to provide a unique experience in this day and age, but there are some out there who still know how to deliver, one such entity being the South African black metal group Formless Devotion and their debut EP Sparks of Separation.As simply as I can put it, Sparks of Separation feels like black metal in slow motion, half the time. I don’t know if this is any kind of intentional feeling the album is meant to evoke, but it exists there, for me.
Formless Devotion have a methodical approach to their rhythmic sensibility as stuttering psychedelic leads lace the forefront of the music, almost as if the central forms of these compositions would be any other band’s guitar solo section, with drums blasting double-time. But here, Formless Devotion have kept their hands steady, and as a result, the music leaves you in this chaotic sort of limbo, the almost rock-life riffs worming their way through your head like a classic Lucifer’s Friend solo being spun in reverse. It’s truly strange, and as each song is followed by a ritualistic and ambient interlude, the mystique of the music only builds. It builds in tension and atmosphere, but almost in anticipation, a questioning: “there’s a lot going on here, a lot that I’m not really comprehending, but what’s going to come next?”
It’s a tipsy anticipation like this that floats on even long after the album has ended. And it feels short, too short, but at 34 minutes, how could it have provided such a dense but fleeting experience? It’s this anticipation that has left me on the edge of my seat multiple times now, trying to find the words to define this experience, playing this album over and over, wondering how it’s all coming together. Formless Devotion have found something here: a sound that truly feels evolved, but wholly dedicated to the foundations of what makes black metal magic and ethereal and empowering.