VoidWork was formed in 2008, and consists of the composer and vocalist Xavier along with three female vocalists (only one of them is present on this album, though). The band started with the idea of creating haunting musical atmospheres, and that is exactly what you'll be hearing: heavily horror-influenced, partly medieval and highly haunting dark ambient. This is the band's second album - or, to be precise, it consists of the band's second album "Horror" with their third release "Forsaken"-EP as an added bonus.
Horror mixes together minimalism and drama, making the music vary from some really fragile moments to some rhythmic and melodic but still atmospheric ones to downright operatic moments. It could be described as synth-driven darkwave, but instead of relying on goth-imagery there's traditional horror and powerful twists within slowly growing song. A lot has been created from a sparse amount of sounds through using powerful and compelling melodies with occasional (but thus even more effective) rhythmics as the main attraction, the actual dark ambience mostly being left to serve as the backgrounds and to provide contrast for the melodies.
The single greatest thing on the album, for me anyway, are the vocals. As you can hear on the highly dramatic "The Serpent's Lullaby III" and the minimalistic but deep "Forever in Fire," the operatic female vocals bring a huge deal of extra depth and dramatic feel to the songs when they are present - while rightfully stealing the show. This is an asset that I hope the band will know to employ in the future as well, as it worked wonders for this album.
The songs would be a lot more convincing if they had less plastic in them. As an example, the haunting and curious "Marble Steps" has a great synth pattern on a humming ambient background, but the song loses a lot of it's power due to the synths not being capable of fully delivering the atmosphere and its emotions - and "The Descent" just plain fails in creating the boiling and infernal feel. The same more or less applies to all the album's moments with clearer melodies in the leading role; the patterns are great and the soundscape varies between good and decent, but it all would make a lot greater impact if the sounds were fleshier and withheld more dimensions.
Then we get to the album's bonus-part. It consists of a little over 20 minutes of rather traditional dark ambient with solitude as it's theme and main inspiration. Frankly, this part sounds quite boring after the actual album; the songs are hugely minimal and simplistic, and feature a lot of overused and cliché elements. The songs "Akhenathon," "Pillars" and "Circle" manage to create some rather appealing atmospheres and soundscapes due to their partially organic instrumentations, featuring an acoustic guitar, percussions and a piano for example, but it seems as if the tracks weren't worked on for long enough. The end result is a great let-down in comparison to "Horror," and unnecessarily lenghtens the album. I view the EP as bonus material that shows a different side of the band, but also as material that was put together too hastily and should've been more clearly separated from the actual album.
If I ranked the album solely based on the minimalistic and powerful compositions and their flow from one to another, it would gain more than an eight. The thing just is, that with a soundscape so clearly based on artificial sound sources it's pretty difficult to create enough "suction" to keep the listener interested for the whole album lenght, and to make them want to spin the album again - and especially so with an approach this minimalistic. The few organic sounds/samples and the vocals on a couple of tracks even this out a bit, but not enough to tip the scales. This album makes great promises for the band's future, despite partly being a let-down. I'll keep an ear on the band, that's for sure.