Within the incense swept halls of buried temples roars soul-clipping spectres in service to the ancient’s bidden sacrifice. Through billowing robe and fanatical conjurations comes the true spirit of death’s metal. A dangerous expression of focused mania channels through the treachery of unforgettable riff and slashing drum in a lineage of influence and tradition reaching from mid-1980’s Florida to early 90’s Netherlands and through deeper worship and undying dedication within the great boon of atmospheric and esoteric occult rebirths across Germany. Therein Saxony arrived Heretic in 2007 with the love of ‘Formulas Fatal to the Flesh’ guiding their own and by 2011 the vision of two particular members would form a second trio, Abyssous, with the drummer from black/thrash project Schafott. Immediately capable and each having reached new peaks of creative drive Abyssous would channel ‘…Smouldering’ (2012) from their hidden temples to great success as it saw re-engineering and expansion on an official release in 2013. The classic death metal rhythms appeared extended, atmospherically devious and explosive within the fog of groups like Beyond and Degial came death and blood-coughing thrash. Five years of brooding silence and breeding horrors awakes now with ‘Mesa’ in 2018 as Abyssous spin great wheels of insidious prayer and torment the world with their spells once again.
So many sects of ancient lords have fallen since between Alchemyst and Beyond, with even more falling silent (Pyre, Drowned, Necrovation) and with the spiriting of Zom and Obscure Burial fresh, the return of Abyssous brings hope for the daimon of ancient and deeper occult death metal traditions. The turn on a dime atmospheric old school death metal furor of ‘…Smouldering’ still exists on Abyssous‘ second outing despite having been silent twice as long as they were previously active. Wailing lead guitars and ‘Last One on Earth’ jogging rifts do little to escape the semblance of ‘Mesa’ from the Morbid Angel guided rhythms of their other project Heretic; Yet elastic and rust-scraping atmospheric death metal guitar work creates just enough of a generational separation from old and new that Abyssous appears energized and far more capable than previous. The period of growth in between releases comes with an intense focus upon subterranean angular guitar attack and chasmic bellows in reproach of the waves of thrashing madness of old.
That they carry the madness of the ancient ones within their practices provides a great honor in listening that inspired many repeat visits. The call of Abyssous‘ rhythmic chanting, the restless forward-march of their shuddering guitar magma, and the harrowing clatter of drums conjured from theurgy is impossible not to answer. These Germans appear as pipers to my rat-like existence and largely due to the success of their atmospheric death metal style. Dealing complete musical statements and not just fragmentary rhythms creates a sort of Azagthoth-ian classicism and von Meilenwald-esque freedom that will warm over similar fandom given unobstructed listen. Beyond the mystification of Abyssous‘ rhythms comes the realization that they speak in tongues and tell obscure tales of ancient gods far beyond my own understanding.
The most glaring constant quality of German death metal from the earliest bands to today comes in the form of riffs (at least if you don’t could mid-90’s prog-death trends). Great riffs, and many of them, flow from Abyssous with unsettlingly slow impact compared to the raw and quaking grooves from a similar band like Obscure Burial but I found that ‘Mesa’ had drilled its way into my head after only a few listens and this compared with similar records that largely shit their way out of my mind after a good night’s sleep. Because I value riffs that grow and atmosphere that is so exceptional I can highly recommend this album. For preview I’d recommend “Impelled” for its satisfying array of guitar textures, “Aerosoils” for the mid-career Morbid Angel expansion of it all, and the title track because it immediately communicates what the record is capable with the exception of the interludes.
Lunatic formulas arisen in repugnance. 4.0/5.0
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