The debut album from Finnish melodic death/doomers Marianas Rest is definitely the kind of thing you'd expect Bleak Bill to review back when we had the domain site but since that is not going to be the case, I'm covering it. So what have we got here? Something quite similar to acts like Swallow The Sun, Insomnium and Omnium Gatherum, by which they share the same keyboardist – Aapo Koivisto. All of the other guys are pretty much new blood, but that doesn't mean that they're bad blood either. The Finns have always seen their way around the doom genre and that can be assured with this record. There are points where I feel that maybe the rest of the instruments are a bit louder than the synths, which often makes it seem like Koivisto is trying to do battle with the other four guys in the band, especially when Harry Vainio's bass riffs and Nico Heininen's drumming comes into play. “Nadir” pounds and gets pretty spacey, but it's a much slower number like “For The Heartless” that really brings in that kind of Funeral and Saturnus vibe to this kind of music. Here we're not getting so much of an onslaught as it were; allowing more influence to come in from the keyboards which will often accentuate with Harri Sunila and Nico Mänttäri's near-shoegaze leads, which paired with Jakko Mäntymaa's gut-wrenching vocals amount to something worthy of the very name of the doom/death genre.
Sometimes Horror Vacui sounds like doom in space as well, which gives us something a bit new than what we're used to. While you're listening to the piece, try to imagine stars and galaxies being influenced in the leads and you'll see where I'm coming from – it just sounds like a band playing on top of an asteroid, looking at the remains of their former planet. Interestingly enough, sparsed in between the songs are actual soundclips taken from astronauts, which gives the record even more of a peculiar nature. Again – it's doom in space. The rest of the album sounds similar, but it's the kind of heavily melodic (we can even throw in Tower favorite In Mourning here) approach that makes for a good mix of light and heavy. If you've come here expecting great keyboard and guitar melodies, then these guys definitely have you covered. There's not a single song on this record where hope is offered, but it's all just so damn beautiful in spite of things. Perhaps frontman Mäntymaa's approach can come off a bit too overbearing in sections (less vocal, more music) but that's a very minor argument (and to some, it will be just that) in retrospect of what is a very powerful doom/death record at it's core. Horror Vacui is just so bleak that you really can't even think of it so much as melodic death in the vein of In Flames or Dark Tranquillity, which definitely makes me throw it into the realms of more thunderous and threatening act.
To me as a reviewer, I've heard several similar approaches to this kind of music before, especially with Swallow The Sun for example; but I don't want you to personally think of this record in the same manner that I'm reviewing it. If you're looking for meaningful doom/death with strong melodies and are curious to the whole “space” vibe I mentioned earlier, than you may want to give it a spin. You certainly should before the year is out, in any case. For a record that came out in October, it is pretty awful to see that no one has covered it yet on Metal Archives. You can't simply deny those leads, folks. You just can't.
(8 Tracks, 52:00)