Abyssal - Denouement
Self Release
6 songs (50:23)
Release year: 2012
Reviewed by Charles
Death metal has taken its listeners to some remarkably dank places, and at times Abyssal’s music feels like a loving tour of the genre’s most fetid basement scenes. In it, you can hear the scraping depth of Immolation or Incantation; the thuggish riffing of Gateways to Annihilation-era Morbid Angel; and the freakishly gurgled vocals of Undergang or Encoffination. Denouement, however, also dabbles extensively in black metal; a tradition which has increasingly strived to take its listeners on eco-friendly holidays through snowy vistas, with owl-spotting and campfire singsongs an optional extra. Given some of the song titles- The Moss Upon Our Ruins, or When Paradigms Replace Gods- plus the fact that I was directed to a band-sanctioned free download of this record via the Red and Anarchist Black Metal blog, and you might expect a tortured fusion of death metal extremity with Cascadian swooping comparable to the mighty Ash Borer.

Perhaps. The best comparison, in my view, is Agruss’s bloody brilliant Morok, from earlier this year. The albums share important similarities. Both are comprised of long, sprawling songs, both make heavy use of atmosphere-building samples, and both utilise the juxtaposition of gravelly death metal riffing with blackened melancholia to produce something loaded with grim intensity. On occasion I feel Abyssal’s compositions aren’t quite as convincingly apocalyptic as Agruss’s: the death metal patterns it uses are occasionally somewhat squarer, more conventional, perhaps indicating the potential for greater creativity and finesse. But, some of the tracks here are horrifyingly impressive. Celestial Dictatorship, for instance, is a monstrosity, wheeling from the kind of clomping war marches that would fit perfectly as one of the slower numbers on Immolation’s Majesty and Decay to wayward avant-black disorientation and dour melodies.

So, it is a twisting, breathing, unpredictable sound. It can be abstract, as with Deus Vitus, which clanks haltingly from one idea to another, like a night spent drifting through vaguely-connected nightmares. Or, it can be lucid. The Moss Upon Our Ruins is all about stony focus, with each tempo shift calculated and precise. You might point to areas for improvement- partly in the production, which seems churlish for a low-budget release by a new band. Or, as hinted above, you might also see room for the riffing style to become a bit more idiosyncratic (though this could be said of the overwhelming majority of bands, of course). But, the simple brutality of some of Abyssal’s ideas actually blends very neatly with the oppressive abstraction that seizes it at other times. An impressive debut album.

Killing Songs :
The Moss Upon Our Ruins, Celestial Dictatorship
Charles quoted 80 / 100
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