Abythic – Beneath Ancient Portals (2018) REVIEW

Reeking of nihilism, blasphemy and a nominal essence of early Grave German death metal band Abythic were harried and eruptive on their debut 2015 EP ‘A Full Negation of Existence’ not far removed from the first Autopsy influenced wave of European death metal bands post-‘Severed Survival’. As far as I can gather, the duo that recorded that EP are both no longer involved with the band and an entirely new line-up formed in 2016, some of that might be dodgy Metal-Archives editing. The early Abythic line-up was comprised of musicians previously involved in death metal band Impure who would also collaborate after that dissolution into demo-only project Asphyxiation. None of that is entirely important because Abythic was basically re-staffed in 2016 and their sound and songwriting approach on ‘Beneath Ancient Portals’ took on new direction in the years between.

From it’s glowering opening riffs and heavy, bassy tones it should be clear that Abythic are now coming more firmly from the underground German death metal sound, as well as some US death metal influences, while moving away from the almost Swedish rub of their 2015 incarnation. With “Purulent Phantasm” I’d initially felt more of an ‘Imperial Doom’ style mixing with production close to Necros Christos‘ ‘Doom of the Occult’ but beyond that track I felt the material veered towards death/doom with greater frequency. I’d say the style is comparable to Burial Invocation, with smaller hints of classic Incantation and Bolt Thrower influences showing in the riff work, as well as more recent stuff from Drowned. What keeps it from settling into predictable flatness associated with that realm of influence is a willingness to wrestle the tempo mid-paced and above purely dragging speed while still incorporating some strong doom riffs throughout.

For my taste the strength of ‘Beneath Ancient Portals’ lies primarily in it’s guitar work, which is reminiscent of that fleeting period of time when bands like Stench of Decay and Ascended were making notable moves within underground old school death metal and showing great promise. The slower sections also recall the underrated debut from Torchure ‘Beyond the Veil’ at least in my mind, and I don’t think it is purely because of the German connection. The riffs are there to speak for themselves on every track but my favorites are on “Redemption Through Soul Transfusion”, “Purulent Phantasm”, and “Abandoned Tombs on Ungodly Ground” while the rest of the album focuses on providing effective death/doom atmospherics a la “T.H.O.N.”

The experience does end up feeling slightly front-loaded with energy if you’re not geared towards the doomed edge of death metal but I don’t think it will be a drag if you’re already indoctrinated with the mid-paced death metal spectrum. I found that I could listen to this album, captivated by the guitar work, 4-5 times on repeat with no real irritation or gripe. The vocals are unflinching in their tone and that might be the only area where I’d plead for some smaller variation. As I said earlier the long-term value of records like this rest upon their heaviness and guitar riffs and I think Abythic have done a fantastic job of keeping my interest throughout the length of ‘Beneath Ancient Portals’. It is a massive progression beyond the project’s first EP and one of the more unflinchingly old school death metal records of the first half of the year.

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Artist Abythic
Type Album
Released May 11, 2018
BUY/LISTEN on Blood Harvest Records’ Bandcamp! Follow Abythic on Facebook
Genres
Death Doom Metal

Fall upon decaying existence. 3.75/5.0

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