Mysterious Abyssal create more tension-filled, warped death on mind-crushing ‘Antikatastaseis’

Abyssal coverMystery and murk can take something already pretty scary and catapult that into the stratosphere. Having noise made by faceless voids and having little grasp of the insanity behind something can make the thing standing in front of you seem more ominous than it already is. Creating something like that is a gift not to be taken lightly.

UK death metal band Abyssal falls into all of that, as they don’t play live, don’t release promo photos, don’t seem to operate like a normal band. They released music basically for free for anyone who wanted to partake in their cavalcade of horrors, and their mission seemed to be to spread that blanket of darkness over as many people as possible. Luckily for the and the rest of the world, the band piqued the interest of Profound Lore Records, who gave a wider release to the band’s engorging second record “Novit Enim Dominus Qui Sunt Eius,” released in 2013, and are at the forefront of bringing their amazing third album “Antikatastaseis” to the masses. This is a record that will infect you in the best possible way. It has layers of darkness stacked on top of each other, it’s a collection of sounds that create a vortex of power, and it’s a record that, once the various elements make themselves known to you, you could find yourself indulging in over and over again. That’s certainly been my experience.

Abyssal has been the product of musician G.D.C., who has helmed this thing since its inception and from their mysterious debut “Denouement” up to now. Drummer T. Hakkinen has been brought in for session work, but that’s about all we know as far as how this group operates. Anyone who has followed Abyssal’s journey knows that this is a machine that’s been building and developing all along, and what you’ll hear on “Antikatastaseis” should stop you dead in your tracks. The day before I wrote this, I got stuck in a blinding rainstorm while driving, with the windshield wipers barely helping and with everything a strange light gray. I had this record playing in the car, and it struck me that I was locked in the perfect setting for absorbing this music. You can’t exactly recreate that experience, but it was a pretty awesome feeling finding a natural event that worked perfectly with the album.

The record opens with “I Am the Alpha and the Omega,” a track that lets the dark melodies slip into the room like smoke before the death hammers start to fall. The growls are buried under the chaos, with blurry, sooty playing marring your vision and ominous tones practically melting into themselves. The last bit is warped and aggressive, trudging hard until it fades suddenly. “The Cornucopia” has drums rumbling heavily and strange chants that should make your hairs stand. Once the song erupts in full, the growls feel infernal and bloody, with fiery playing causing great blazes, and later the assault feeling rather stinging. Melody cuts through the background later, as emotion is allowed to pour down, with the toll paid feeling like a great one. “Veil of Transcendence” is one of the longest cuts at 11:31, with guitars boiling and giving off steam, and delirious, slow-driving mashing letting you go insane over time. Later, a haze of keys arise and tumble for a while, as if you’re headed into the mouth of horror, and the mad thrashing that slips over top that puts an exclamation point at the end like a dagger. It’s my favorite track on this thing. “Telomeric Erosion” has a black metal-style opening, with the growls turning to gurgles and every element of sound creating a pocket of hypnosis. Vocals cascade down and blast at your skin, while the final notes of terror disappear into a noise cloud.

“A Casual Landscape” feels like a logical extension of the track before it, as sounds bustle and chants make another appearance. There is a strong sense of spaceiness, like you’re floating into the coldest, most isolated stretches of the galaxy. But there’s an explosion out of that, as you might imagine, with the music feeling like a total massacre, bodily and psychologically. The pace thrashes with filth, while gothic undertones emerge and bring even more bleakness to the scene. “Chrysalis” is cloudy and murky right away, with riffs swimming through the thick muck and black melodies drizzling and coating the ground. Halfway through the song, a long instrumental portion sets up shop and carries the cut to its final resting place, with the tones haunting and the playing feeling ambitious and proggy. The lengthy closer “Delere Auctorem Rerum Ut Universum Infinitum Noscas” has several minutes of haze at the front end, making it seem like it might be a nightmarish ambient track. But about halfway through, after sci-fi-rich synth thickens the humidity, a death march breaks out. The guitars char and hammer, while the vocals feel nasty and monstrous, and the song feels like the album’s true climax. Again, the melodies are wholly emotional, feeling like guts and hearts are being poured on the floor, and the final minute lets that tension build, finally giving way when it fades out into the cosmos.

Abyssal’s might and fury and not to be questioned, and the devastation worked into these seven cacophonous tracks will impact your body and spirit. This project keeps getting more and more inventive, and “Antikatastaseis” is the band’s best work to date. This is powerful, hellacious death metal that doesn’t follow a rule book or bow to a code, and it’s leave you in a mental fog. Abyssal’s music deserved to have more ears and minds tuned in, and this record should help them achieve that.

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