At the Mountains of Madness
Since's Portal's relative notoriety with 2007's Outre', bands of a similar ilk, whether preexisting or just birthed, have become more commonplace in the world of extreme music. It seemed like almost every "best of list" from last year contained bands who draw strong comparisons to the Australian act. Whether it was Mitochondrion, Antediluvian, or Flourishing these bands have tread similar ground, yet none better than the U.K. act Abyssal.
Maybe what attracts me the most about Abyssal is the tangible quality to their music. Stomach wrenchingly down tuned and heavy, Abyssal's sound is so ominous and heavy that moments of melody and clarity do well to offset the Stygian atmosphere and further delve the listener into the nightmarish songscape. Too heavy and overwhelming for black metal, too sinister and atmospheric for death metal, Abyssal are able to articulate a horrific sound that has some sick sense of pleasure to it. Derivations from dissonance to moments of clarity and melody all submerge to a brutish and omniscient sound that is often shrouded in dissonant fret work and a chorus of the most guttural vocals possible.
"Detritivore" might very well be the most dynamic track on the album as it explodes from a brutal technical onslaught to a catchy and melodic finger-tapping section that's almost calming as jarring because it's placed so close to something so ugly. The band shows great skill and sense of structure in atmosphere and are able to create a seemless weave throughout Denouement's fifty minute playing time.
While I have bought the digital download on their bandcamp, the images and lyrics included match perfectly and show how important it can be to offer such a thing alongside your music. Verbose and dark, the lyrics are thankfully more modern and less Lovecraftian then you might think. "Swansong of a Dying Race" is a particularly well written tune which dodges the banality that often accompanies metal songs about cataclysms.The last stanza does well to encapsulate Abyssal's outlook.
"As the vast web unravels 'neath our feet
And we fall into the ages of darkness
A deafening hum of vapidity
Is the only soundtrack to be heard"
The whole album can be listened to on their bandcamp, or downloaded for £2 (roughly $3.11 or something).