Melodies of Annihilation
Oakland, California’s Abstracter return with their 3rd full length album, Cinereous Incarnate on 8th June. This latest offering further refines the band’s blackened crusty doom approach to new levels.
There were some mammoth, gargantuan tracks that made up their previous two albums Tomb of Feathers (2012) and Wound Empire (2015). Cinereous Incarnate is bolstered by two, shorter instrumental tracks, whilst maintaining the band’s established theme of monster song lengths.
Abstracter manages to blend many influences and ideas into their music. The average track length of around 9 minutes never exhausts. It is simply not possible to achieve their pummelling assault any other way. The journey is what makes this, if you can make it out of the labyrinth.
The band has a particularly interesting approach to their songwriting style that is at times, likened to a kind of mesmerising spell, as they manufacture a gloomy landscape of despair. This is most noticeable on tracks like “Ashen Reign” and “Wings of Annihilation”.
Because the majority of tracks are so long, the evolving nature of Abstracter’s typical song is their strength. They offer a menacing brand of Blackened Doom to terrify and disturb at every turn along the way.
Doom and Darkness
What current fans of the band may notice immediately upon listening to this latest effort is the improved production values. The drums are huge and as a result, this drives the rest of the instrumentation. Every reliable building starts with a good foundation. This holds true for anything that is built. Anyone in the know will tell you that a good drum sound is one of the most important aspects of any album. (Ask Lars Ulrich: On more than one occasion, I’ve heard that this alone took 2 weeks!)
Compared with their previous albums, the drums are certainly more powerful and rounded with more presence. This may well be down to the decision by the band to record the drum tracks at a different studio location to the rest of the instrumentation. Whatever the reason for that, it has resulted in a great sound nonetheless.
Just shy of 10 minutes is the opening track, “Nether.” It begins with screaming feedback before the initial riff kicks things off. After an initial, fairly pacey verse section starts off the tempo is brought back down to a slow, shuffling, Primitive Man-esque quick-sand march to the death. During the slower part of the oscillating nature of this first track, the vocals also remind me a bit of Primitive Man. A more abrasive, blood curdling vocal compared with the other guttural personality that is more often on display.
The ominous opener ends quite urgently before crashing out and blending into the first of two instrumentals. “Cinereous” is a delicate and distant instrumental track made of hissing, crackling and an industrial throb of noise and feedback. These instrumentals simply act as the mortar to the main bricks of the album.
Fire always results in the same outcome. It is consistent if nothing else. The following two tracks are examples of Abstracter’s consistency to deliver punishing, sludgy doom that is as black as night.
“Ashen Reign” holds its doom/sludge traits more closely. A haunting and smothering assault that has hints of the typical sombre tonality of Black Metal whilst keeping that impending doom within arms reach at all times. As the song approaches its half way point, the band begin a descent. In Music Theory this would be known as Ritardando (gradually becoming slower) and this example is achieved remarkably well. The proficiency of the band shines through the ashes here as the tempo slowly reduces seamlessly.
After a moment of near silence, I immediately think of Slayer’s Reign In Blood when the drums re-enter in an agonisingly slow fashion. Yet another riff joins the fold, bringing an unsettling dissonance to the proceedings. This new theme provides most of the substance to the back end of this track, giving the song as a whole a feeling of two halves with a short half-time break.
A clean guitar strikes you at the start of “Wings of Annihilation,” certainly the most prominent example of this sound on the album. The coupled note intervals from the guitars in isolation could be deemed cheerful or happy but when in sequence, the melody is that of despair and anguish, fragile yet dangerous.
The instruments stack up to eventually create a wall of sound that is unrelenting. A slightly less muddy Portal comes to mind at times at points during this song once it hits full throttle.
The Final Embers Fade
Closing the album is the second of two instrumental tracks, “Incarnate” followed by the epic closer, “Devouring Night.” The opening riff of the final song is one of the most impactful riffs on the album, it’s just nasty. Growling vocals saturate the mix over the band, spitting venom soaked razor blades. The vocalist can switch effortlessly between his styles to bring the songs to new heights, or depths, more like.
As a whole, this albums boasts some truly excellent extreme metal. I believe this to easily be Abstracter’s strongest release to date, from the sonic qualities to the songwriting mastery. Abstracter seem to have it all and this records is now a flag in the ground, a statement. Cross the line if you dare.