For decades The Chasm has been my life’s blood, a source of personal inspiration and a true taste-maker in my evolution as a fan of extreme metal. Like many fans I initially discovered the band after loving Daniel Corchado’s contributions on Incantation‘s ‘Diabolical Conquest’. Hearing ‘Deathcult For Eternity: The Triumph‘ in 1998 pulled me away from my obsession with US death metal bands like Immolation and Morbid Angel and forced me to see the greater picture of extreme metal. Their albums might have sounded comparatively rough (up until 2004) at the time but the world sweeping influences blending heavy metal, melodic black/death metal and their own twisted style of death metal riffing made for an incredibly special record every time. With ‘The Spell of Retribution‘ it seemed that The Chasm had fully realized their vision, it was an opus, a grand monument of death metal and their most coherent musical statement.
Then came a long five year wait for the follow up, the equally impressive ‘Farseeing the Paranormal Abysm‘ in a more progressive, textural style that appeared to focus more on Corchado’s rhythmic style than anything else. It featured a drought of vocals that allowed for greater guitar voice, and more impact when the vocals did kick in to give songs direction. The album was saved for the fact that it had vocals because it would otherwise have been slightly repetitive in phrasing and variation of theme. It was modern and impressive, the more I listened the more it became my favorite album from the band. And then came eight years of silence from The Chasm.
In that time we got an excellent comeback from Shub-Niggurath, one of Mexico’s finest black/death/thrash bands. Infinitum Obscure released two amazing records in a similar style to The Chasm. Execration and Obliteration both released amazing records that totally oozed with inspiration from The Chasm, and still I waited for the real thing. I sat through two boring Magnum Itiner Interius records, and two equally bland Acerus recordings hoping to find a semblance to anything that a fan of The Chasm might enjoy to no avail.
So, eight years later we’re suddenly treated to ‘A Conscious Creation from the Isolated Domain – Phase I’ that promises to be an hour of progressive death metal music, this time without Julio Viterbo on guitars. To be honest I always figured that Corchado was a controlling creative type and that Viterbo was only there to add to their performances but the more I listen to this new album I believe he contributed the ‘true metal’ direction of past releases and reigned in the excess interests of Corchado. At face value this is more or less a ‘bedroom death metal’ record that is so isolated in its vision that it’s identity and voice becomes lost in a salad of guitar tricks and riff ideas. Sure, the spirit of Corchado’s death metal music is here, his signature rhythms are all featured here. But my issue is that it all comes at the same pace, the songs aren’t distinct and the statements are so subtle that it becomes a forgettable backing track for an album that needed vocals.
Oh, that’s right. This album is entirely instrumental. This wasn’t such a problem on ‘Farseeing the Paranormal Abysm’ which was largely instrumental but here the hour fades in an out of interest without any ‘punctuated’ moments. There are no guitar solos or mind-shattering melodies, instead we’re left with some halfway decent progressive death metal instrumentals that tend to drag on squeezing every last textural idea out of the previous album’s guitar parts. The bass does nothing to break the mold, the drum performance rests upon its laurels, and the guitar playing only feels halfway there. To wait eight years for my favorite band to release a collection of songs that feel unfinished and directionless has been incredibly disappointing. To feel indifferent about a record from The Chasm is even more disturbing than if they’d released something that I hate. I don’t hate this record.
The only saving grace for this record is that I see it as a preamble, it is ‘Phase I’ after all. Without a voice, Corchado is banking on the fact that folks are so hungry for The Chasm that they’ll accept this experimental and bare-bones instrumental album. Maybe it was released for the sake of getting it out, to move past these ideas and create something new. But I will say wholeheartedly that if these songs had vocals and a few heavy metal riffs this might have been the best thing released under The Chasm name. As it is, it’s just a really cool backing track to what might’ve been interesting. I love this band’s legacy and I’m hoping ‘Phase II’ makes a bigger artistic statement and doesn’t just waffle around aimlessly.
|Released||September 22, 2017|
|BUY/LISTEN on their Bandcamp!||The Chasm/Lux Inframundis Official Website|