ABYSSAL - Denouement (HELLTHRASHER - CD 2013)
Hellthrasher Productions surprises me all the time when they keep finding – probably somewhere in the pits of hell - more and more underground killer bands and release their stuff without any remorse. And it is always cool to find out that some unknown bands have quality, which matches the best and most popular acts of the current scene… and in case of Abyssal I can definitely say so, as this British band mercilessly crushed me with the material from their first album “Denouement”. The story is quite weird here… First of all, the band is relatively new, formed only in 2011… The line up is hidden behind the curtain of secrets; we don’t know who’s behind this project and how many people are there… Personally I don’t really understand the point of keeping the line up in secret and why would people not want to reveal themselves. OK, it would make sense if the music was shit – nobody’s so fetish to put his name on some crap straight from the devil’s ass… But if it (the music, the band) is great then reveal yourself so we can address the compliments and tell you how great your music is! OK, maybe it has something to do with some sort of concept of Abyssal – in the booklet you’ll find the line: “ghosts among people”. OK, cool, but I don’t believe in any extraterrestrial beings. Anyway, Abyssal delivers an album “Denouement” and it is their first CD (the second one titled “Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius” is also out already). Hellthrasher actually took care of the re-release of this album (but I don’t know how many copies of the first pressing, self released by the band, have been made and what happened to them all).
The front artwork of “Denouement” somehow makes me think of such bands as Opeth or Katatonia, as they often have quite similar pictures on their releases. But don’t let it fool you, as musically Abyssal has absolutely nothing to do with these two bands. Style wise the Brits combine all extreme genres of metal and do it in excellent way: think of great, dominating dose of utterly heavy death metal, mixed up with a portion of gloomy, sinister funeral doom and some furious, devastating, ghoulish black metal… for sure Abyssal are not the first band to combine all these styles, but I do must admit that what they’ve achieved on “Denouement” is excellent and pretty original. Sure, there are number of bands, which the reviewers constantly repeat while reviewing Abyssal music – bands such as Mitochondrion, Portal, Antediluvian, Incantation, Immolation, Vital Remains and some other. I would also add Grave Miasma and Cruciamentum. And I have no doubts that there’re many similarities between all those bands and I won’t deny that surely Abyssal must have had the same sources of influence as Antediluvian or Mitochondrion – just to name these two. And fine, but when I listen to “Denouement” I just feel truly amazed by the atmosphere of this music, by the sheer heaviness and brutality, which it brings and at the same time of how almost memorable it is and truly involving. Abyssal has great skills to deliver diverse sounds; you’ll find here some crushing, extremely heavy and slow parts, but also many blasting, ferocious, violent fragments – all nicely composed, so the songs are far from being boring. And more so, there are some almost melodic parts here and there like in “Swansong of a Dying Race”, which is one of the highlights of the album. The songs are also epic, monumental, with many atmospheric parts and with so many layers and textures that it will take you few spins, before “Denouement” will speak to you.
But when you’ll listen to it several times you’ll start to pick up some crushing moments and I can promise you there will be many. Already “The Moss upon Our Ruins” is just a monumental, severe opener, which has only one aim: to announce the coming of the end – in the brutal way! “There will be no graves to mark our passing, no monument to this folly, no tears shall lament this scene - a ballad of silence for the moss upon our ruins…”. Hell yeah! “Deus Vult” will bring some truly memorable riffs and some, which will force maniacal headbanging until the very last second (which is a challenge as the songs on the album are all pretty long!). With “When Paradigms Supplant Gods” the atmosphere is utterly ghoulish and sinister and will invoke some very disturbing feelings, but how fantastic is the sound here! And when I listen to it I feel like “OK, bands such as Encoffination and Father Befouled are truly awesome, I have many releases of these bands, but if they lack anything then it would be a variety and some distinctive changes through the songs and albums”. Abyssal delivers everything what those bands lack and that is a great advantage of those British ghosts.
When speaking of the whole production and execution of the songs, I have basically nothing to complain about – the guitar tone is very good, and so are those deep, guttural growls. I think that I can only be more sceptical for the use of the drum machine, as it will always make the music sound slightly artificial and definitely drum machine is so soulless and it hasn’t got the sound and feeling of the real drumming. But it is OK, it doesn’t disturb me too much, maybe only in the fast parts you can truly hear that and feel like it could sound better… All in all though “Denouement” is a worthy and great release and I can only hope to listen to “Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius” one day also.
Standout tracks: “The Moss upon Our Ruins”, “Deus Vult”, “Swansong of a Dying Race”
Final rate: 80/100