Abstrakt Algebra - Abstrakt Algebra
Progressive Doom Metal
8 songs (59:53)
Release year: 1995
Reviewed by Goat
Archive review

Given the sheer number of people who sit up and look interested when the sacred name of Candlemass is invoked in Doom discussions, it's somewhat of a surprise that Abstrakt Algebra's sole album languishes in obscurity. Formed as Candlemass were trundling to a close in the nineties, the band took the Doom Metal that they were known for in a much more experimental direction. Unfortunately for them, labels and fans showed little interest and the final nail in the coffin came when Music For Nations would only release the second Abstrakt Algebra album under the Candlemass name. The band's self-released debut is still worth unearthing, however, since it is a Candlemass album in all but name; all the members were in either Candlemass or would go on to be in other Edling side-project Krux, not least vocalist Mats Levén - his Power Metal grandeur adds a real touch of class to proceedings here, and considering that the rest of the band are firing on all cylinders, Abstrakt Algebra is a surprisingly good alternate blast of the Doom that we know and love.

You've no doubt guessed from the misspelt band-name and that zany artwork that things aren't all ripe and healthy in the Kingdom of Sweden. For one, the 'experimental' element mostly takes the form of Industrial clanging and banging with a few samples to back things up, and it's completely unnecessary. During early listens, it's near impossible to stop yourself checking to make sure that you're not inadvertently playing something else in the background as well - so perfect and fulfilled is the Prog-kissed Doom Metal here that further additions are completely extraneous. Given time, however, you do get used to it, and soon see that the likes of the title track and Shadowplay use the backing sound to brilliant effect. The only other criticism is that the songs can sometimes seem a little samey, although fans will eat it up; there's far more to praise than to criticise, overall, not least the music itself. The duo of Mike Wead and Simon Johannsson on guitar are stellar, cranking technical riffs out left right and centre, whilst Leif Edling's bass and Jejo Perkovic's drums are simply excellent. Need I even say that Mats Levén is on fire? I haven't heard a sub-par performance from the man, ever.

Make no mistake, Abstrakt Algebra is a lot of fun. The ominous US Power Metal riffing of opener Stigmata (sirens and cheap-sounding synth blasts in the background!) is unashamedly headbanger fare at first, sounding rather like a less rough Cathedral, before Arcturus-y piano interludes and spoken words bring the Prog. It locks into a groove that steps dangerously close to Nu-Metal before thankfully sliding back off into Doom waters, and the killer solo soon after will put a smile on your face, whoever you are. Although Nameless pumps up the Industrial elements and has not one but two clichéd acoustic interludes it's still a great song, and the title track and Bitter Root have more than enough enough good moments to make them worthy of your ears. April Clouds is the real strange moment, driven by whispered vocals and Church organs with a touch of Drone towards the end - fear not, enemies of the Sunn O))), this is by far and away traditional Heavy Doom Metal, as proven when the next track Vanishing Man kicks the party off again. My personal favourite track is the fifteen-minute closer Who What Where When. It's apparently a tribute to Rush, although it starts in pretty typical Doomrock fare before adding a hefty dose of (still guitar-driven) Prog to the mix, finishing the album off wonderfully.

Oh, and if all that wasn't enough, don't forget to listen out for the following lyrical gem:

You gave me a goat I could fuck
But where are you now?
I don't know

What more needs saying? If you're a member of the Candlemassive, be sure to keep an eye out for this gem.

Killing Songs :
Stigmata, Shadowplay, Abstrakt Algebra, Who What Where When
Goat quoted 84 / 100
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