Abyssal are now signed to Profound Lore Records, and there’s no shortage of evidence that justifies the signing. Abyssal raised more than a few eyebrows with their last two releases, Denouement, and Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius, which were landmarks in the short history of atmospheric blackened death metal. Their new release, Antikatastaseis, comes with more fanfare, and consequently, steeper expectations. Does Antikatastaseis meet those expectations? In my opinion, it does, and goes beyond them.
Don’t expect a blastfest from start to finish. The tremolo riffs are almost always there, but the band mix a variety of tempo changes to keep songs fresh. Sure, as is with most blackened death metal albums, songs blur into each other. Consider Antikatastaseis a listening experience and not a set of tracks. No highlights here. Antikatastaseis doesn’t have hits. It’s a soundtrack to skies falling, heaven spiraling into darkness.
Antikatastaseis invokes more atmosphere than albums of contemporaries like Portal. Every so often, there’s percussion music, heavy chugga-chugga and vocal chanting. The tempo changes vary so much, the album sounds like a ride into harsh realms, where land meets sea and suffocating smoke chokes the unintiated. The thousand and one riffs style does appear to be in good usage on Antikatastaseis. Each listen brings more of the little discordant melodies to the listener intent on unraveling this mystic experience. Somehow, a sensation of swirling into a void makes itself memorable to the listener in a way that few bands can replicate.
Abyssal have brewed this concoction slowly, and with Antikatastaseis, they’ve reached a pinnacle in creative activity. More than a catchy riff or so scattered about a song with standard structure, the music is chaotic, relentless, and ceaselessly satisfying. A new pillar in blackened death metal has been spawned.
Little ambient keyboard pieces even add to the songs as the guitars take respite, only to explode as they do on track three, “Veil of Transcendence.” The downpicks have enough weight to alter the gravitational pull of the earth, quite seemingly. Bands like Aevangelist and Abyssal prove that dissonance and stellar play are not in contrast of one another.
The death metal vocals bellow like some gurgle from deeper within a desecrated temple. The drum patterns are interesting. On final track, “Delere Auctorem Rerum Ut Universum Infinitum,” the drumming at the close of the album, even sounds like dance music. The trick works its charm nicely. Abyssal have experimented with their sound on Antikatastaseis and have evolved the sub-genre beyond predictable forms. Antikatastaseis is an early entry candidate for my top album of 2015. In atmospheric blackened death metal, or in other sub-genres, Antikatastaseis exudes incomparable brilliance to albums that deserve unworthy mention. I give credit where credit is due, and for some albums, praise means veneration. For Abyssal and Antikatastaseis, only the pantheon of true greatness awaits.