Though I hadn’t realized it at the time North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany based ‘old school’ death metal band Abythic had already undergone a second fairly massive resurfacing by the time their debut full-length ‘Beneath Ancient Portals’ would release in 2018 through Blood Harvest. Founding member and original drummer MDB (Haimad, Rex Verminorum, Sacrilegious Rite) would turn out to be the central artistic voice in the band and with the coming of this second full-length, ‘Conjuring the Obscure’, it’d seem that his shift to the main guitar position has provided a somewhat unique conceptual approach to their touring of death metal’s most celebrated era just as the 1990’s arrived. Although it’ll appear to be an iteration on the death/doom metal influenced style of its precursor, this second Abythic record makes a point to employ the spirit of many ancient death metal disciplines across Europe and North America in ‘Conjuring the Obscure’– The proposed journey specifically intends a trip from Finnish death metal’s grimy advent down towards Florida death metals own earliest innovations and this is already more or less in line with what Abythic have been about since their first shake-up back in 2016. Though the concept took a moment to wrap my head around the album itself is an excellent follow up to this bands promising debut.
Although I’d suggested some additional vocal variety in my review of ‘Beneath Ancient Portals’ I wasn’t expecting this record to be more or less split between four chapters and four vocalists. Each chapter includes either one or three songs each but it should be somewhat obvious because each vocalist is distinct. First up is Liemy of Reckless Manslaughter, who’d sang on the entirety of ‘Beneath Ancient Portals’ and continues to be an excellent fit for the bands downtuned Finnish death metal (Demigod, Depravity) influenced style. The first single “Shrouded in Perpetual Darkness” surely shows what a comfortable fit he is as the bands main vocalist. For songs 4 through 6 Ulrich Kreienbrink, former vocalist for Ingurgitating Oblivion and early live fill-in for Slaughterday takes over and makes an immediately striking first impression. What ‘Killrich‘ does on “Ruins in a Wasteland of Visions” is probably one of the bigger highlights of the record and I’d almost wanted him to deliver the rest of the record at that point. The tone of this second Chapter of three tracks is thicker shrouded by the fog of doom, a more deeply slithering Autopsy-esque crawl that I personally love for the howling range expressed by Kreienbrink. For the third chapter Mark of Selfdevoured brings his Van Drunen-esque pipes to another stunning arrangement, “Shadows of Becoming Might”. I suppose at this point I wasn’t clear if we’d hopped over to Morgoth‘s debut or landed in Obituary‘s storage shed in 1987… but the intended effect is clear enough. “Let the Purge Begin” ends the album with a brutal performance by way of Marcel from lesser known tech-death band Anam, the intention seems to be Steve Tucker era Morbid Angel to start but the song quickly goes places far outside of the Florida death metal box unless the aim was Diabolic.
If you’re keeping track you’ll note that Abythic have sourced some deep cuts North Rhine-Westphalia‘s greater death metal underground for these cameo performances in putting their spin upon the various dogmas of classic death metal. It bodes well for variety and each performance lends itself to their own standout moment but at some point it would be a hard thing to parse out upon casual listen without the context of the guest vocalists being explained. As a concept it does begin to make sense but doesn’t speak for itself; Though it might be easier to figure if you’d already understood Abythic‘s pre-established musical personality. To be fair the tracks featuring Liemy do establish a fair amount of those operating standards that the band typically brings but, the dynamic shifts feel jarring at times and meandering at others. I doubt anyone will see “Ruins in a Wasteland of Visions” coming and instead of capitalizing on that incredible idea with further variation Abythic moves on to different styles. Trading cohesion for variety isn’t totally bittersweet but it does affect the digestion at some point. Had they split duties equally between Liemy and Killrich instead of all four it’d have been a pill more easily swallowed but I am no less pleased by ‘Conjuring the Obscure’ because of this. It does end up sounding like a compilation album from a band that’d gone through four singers before finding their ‘sound’ but all of the material is excellent and shows some solid growth beyond their debut. Highly recommended. For preview purposes I’d suggest “Shrouded in Perpetual Darkness”, “Drifting Among Shadows”, and “Shadows of Becoming Might” as the three strongest pieces here that show the breadth of variety on the full listen although you’re missing a piece of the arc if you overlook “Ruins in a Wasteland of Visions.”
Pain that lasts for eons. 4.0/5.0
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