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Abysmal Growls Of Despair : Abyss

Deeply layered and textured music from Abysmal Growls Of Despair proves as intriguing as it is captivating.

There's a point where the very extreme end of Black Metal burns itself out and Dark Ambient exists, and there's another point where Dark Ambient produces the beginings of something approaching a Black Metal intro, somebody picks up a guitar and the whole filthy cycle begins again. Which is where I think albums like Abysmal Growls Of Despair's 'Abyss' and Funeral/Drone in general comes in. It is the primitive stirring in the formless, subterranean ooze that gives birth to metal in all it's most unholy and horrific manifestations.

For a Drone/Ambient release to be of interest, though, a healthy dynamic within the music and decent production seem to be key, and these are two of the many ways in which Abysmal Growls Of Despair excel. The sepulchral rumblings and keyboard-driven atmospherics balance well with the percussive elements and the various samples and vocal passages can be picked out well, like a small distraction from the general atmosphere of morose and cavernous isolation. Generally throughout though, there's something highly emotive and impassioned about this release, but it's not the Pagan spiritualism found in something like Wolvserpent, it's far more upsetting and harrowing. This is horror music, pure and simple.

French composer Hangsvart (Abysmal Growls Of Despair's sole member) is nothing if not prolific in his output. Three full lengths and an EP released so far this year under the AGOD banner, and by all accounts he's a few tracks into the next one. Remarkable really considering the quality of the recordings. I can't claim to have a huge collection of Funeral/Drone music but I would happily buy the lot on CD if everything he released wasn't made available as digital only.

AGOD definitely stand out as something worth investigating, whatever one's Doomy bent. The music is deeply layered and textured and is as intriguing as it is captivating. It also strikes a chord with the shadowy, forgotten sides of our nature we'd probably rather not think about. There is much to take in throughout each track and I noticed too, that Hangsvart manages to pull off the neat trick of having the songs not only reveal a number of previously unheard, hidden secrets on subsequent listens, but has them sounding fresh and new, and almost completely different to the first couple of times you heard them. Quite extraordinary.

Previous album to this,'Dark Days', had its feet firmly in the Funeral/Doom camp, but here we are dealing exclusively with Dark Ambient. Perhaps a bridge into the following release ('Lovecraftian Drone'), 'Abyss' plunders the depths of subterranean sonic menace to great effect, and even comes up for air periodically at the start of tracks two and three before a slimy hand pulls it all back to whence we had just been. The mood here is not pleasant, the atmosphere one of lurking peril, riddled with inevitable despair, and at times you wonder if and when you're gonna get out.

A couple of AGOD component parts on this particular release should rightly get singled out for a mention. The first are the two pieces of classical music woven cleverly into tracks two and three. Of the two I think the Fauré works the best, because, for the record, I think the familiarity of Beethoven's 'Moonlight Sonata' detracts slightly from the peculiarities of AGOD's distinctive misery. Secondly, the vocals. Within the confines of 'Abyss' they 'just' about work, but anywhere else, or if this is your maiden voyage into cheerless waters such as these, you'd be forgiven for thinking that the Honey Monster had popped in and been recorded waxing lyrical on various vile and iniquitous topics after imbibing too much gin.

Redemption arrives, though, in the shape of track two's monicker. 'Hang This Fucking Black Frock Man' is a more than worthy contender for song title of the year, and will in fact win, hands down.

At the cthonic heart of AGOD then, and what makes it such an intrinsically fascinating and appealing entity, is the eye that's been cast shrewdly over the whole aesthetic. Which, from the music itself and the band's name, to each albums' artwork and beyond, gives off a strong and cohesive identity not often found in something so underground and esoteric in appeal. But appealing it is nonetheless, and good to know the next installment, in whatever form it takes, is just around the corner. 3.5mm jack at the ready, then!

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Reviewer's rating: 7.5/10


Tracklist :
1. Only Dread And Fright
2. Hang This Fucking Black Frock Man
3. Effondré
4. Calm Despair Hollow Life

Duration : Approx. 44 minutes

Visit the Abysmal Growls Of Despair bandpage.

Reviewed on 2014-11-20 by Matt Halsey
Aesthetic Death
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