The most pertinent conjecture in the lead-up to this fully instrumental The Chasm album was how freedom from the vocal straitjacket would affect songwriting. Surely, not having to make provision for vocal spots would, or ought to, give songs more room to breathe and to evolve in their own time? While all metal is constrained by a somewhat rigid adherence to repeating bars and measures, and though death metal in particular goes some distance in escaping the verse-chorus norms dictated by vocal considerations, it remained to be seen what an underground metal album written without the “distraction” of a singer’s ego would sound like.
In many ways, The Chasm are the ideal band to attempt this venture because of how panoramic and wide-canvased their sound is. Impressionistically and structurally, by necessity even of meeting their lofty cosmic themes, this music occupies the higher musical registers; unafraid of treating solemn, minor key melody as the core stylistic device, The Chasm play riffs in chiefly two flavors: in a syncopated, speed metal manner, and as twin guitar harmony. Regular interplay between these two attributes and the choice in note and phrasing so peculiar unto this band make this album full of detail for the listener. But is all of it relevant?
An opinion I’ve heard voiced is that the band have gone overboard in terms of transitions and general textural density. It is a fair criticism; this album misses the focused development of earlier works and in particular the binding, bookending memorability of Farseeing The Paranormal Abysm. It raises an interesting question, too: does metal then actually need vocals as a form of anchoring force, without which even the best intentions are liable to lose themselves in a dance of excess? Was the intention behind the instrumental nature of this album simply to be rid of an encumbrance, or was writing itself to be altered, at least as visualized in the mind?
On present evidence, the writing has indeed changed, but not as longtime fans would’ve hoped. Far worse, however, is that while instantly identifiable as The Chasm, A Conscious Creation From The Isolated Domain carries little of the abstract, mystical air that have made this band’s music a thing of almost sacred virtue in the underground; redoubtable of integrity and ideal though The Chasm remain, this will still be acknowledged as the band’s most tired-sounding album.