Abstracter – Cinereous Incarnate (2018) REVIEW

The ashen, grayed out ruins and spiraling storm above depicted in Kevin Gan Yuen‘s (Sutekh Hexen) artwork for Oakland, California extreme metal band Abstracter‘s third full-length set a tone and create expectations fully delivered by the music within. Gan Yuen, along with experimental conceptual sound artists Only Now, gilds and mightily elevates Abstracter‘s darkest-yet exploration of extremes with soundscapes and ringing post-apocalyptic noise. Formed as their own noise duo in 2010 Abstracter is music created by men who are first and foremost artists and world-builders that see every piece holistically envisioned before it finishes. On ‘Cinereous Incarnate’ they are on a path to ruin, a total rejection of light and hope as only the deepest grays and faint reflections light the world. As a result they’ve ushered out the creeping, crusted sludge metal prowess and made room for a satisfying inhale of blackened smoke that breathes of death and humanity’s ultimate inevitable doom.

Abstracter‘s debut full-length ‘Tomb of Feathers’ arrived with a great pulse of excitement in 2012 due to it’s Dragged into Sunlight-esque tones and reinterpretation of what Neurosis masterfully crafted on ‘Through Silver in Blood’. For the plagued sects of sludge-bearers it was both mercilessly heavy and mercifully atmospheric with moaning druid-esque vocals and a powerful bass guitar tone. From there the light began to fade and ethereal chants turned to crackling screams and funeral doom plodding on their grating follow up ‘Wound Empire’ in 2015. I didn’t like it outside of “Glowing Wounds”, largely for the odd digital distortion added to the vocals, and likewise couldn’t really see it’s relevance to the first album. By that next year Abstracter would restaff their rhythm section and took roughly two years to work towards this third album.

Atmospheric death metal seems to have caught the band’s collective attention as the extreme doom of Lycus and perhaps Loss lies draped across the sound of this album like a great, fertile corpse. Already toying with Agrimonia-esque compositions and some post-metal ideologies on ‘Wound Empire’, Abstracter have consistently rejected the adoption of trend in favor of falling into the ultimate pits of death/doom a la Anhedonist. This Shroud of the Heretic-esque sound, when aligned with brilliant atmospherics, provides a surrealist Disembowelment-like experience that was entirely unexpected. You may not remember the riffs or most of the tracks on this album, but it’s sound is unforgettably achieved.

The soundscapes the bleed in an out of each track are impressively tailored with the slowly shifting mood of ‘Cinerous Incarnate’. This cohesion and thematic descent makes for an atmospherically superior experience that will undoubtedly suffer from some ailment of shapelessness in many ears. I find each track has something to grasp onto, or at least a branch to crash upon to slow the sense of falling into the abyss. “Ashen Reign” has a curiously circular progression that feels like a cavernous blend of Impetuous Ritual but with that clever guitar voicing you’d get from an album like ‘Unholy Cult’. What I’m generally missing here comes from the expectation of black metal and sludge metal as prominent features. Instead ‘Cinereous Incarnate’ feels much more like an atmospheric death metal album with heavy influence from funeral doom. Though I feel I have a knack for these sub-genre nuances, they don’t ultimately matter outside of database quibbles.

Satisfaction comes in great waves and Abstracter have written their most moving piece in “Wings of Annihilation” from it’s ringing build to peaks of blackened thrusts and sludgy bass dissonance it is a spellbinding listening experience. Each of the four main ten minute songs is a claustrophobic nightmare with an ominous score constantly reminding the listener that more horror awaits at every turn. It is an excellent listen and held up incredibly well despite any real attention being paid towards memorable or ‘catchy’ moments. Where I eventually lost steam was in the final track as it could have been a bit shorter to make repeat listens less daunting. I really appreciate this darkest evolution of Abstracter and the additional atmospherics truly gift their third full-length with distinction and glorious repeatable, listenable value.


Artist Abstracter
Type Album
Released June 8, 2018
BUY/LISTEN on Sentient Ruin Laboratories’ Bandcamp! Follow Abstracter on Facebook
Black Metal,
Sludge Metal,
Death Doom Metal

 The burning souls below. 4.0/5.0

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