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Abysmal Darkening : Sub Terra


Abysmal Darkening's sophomore turns out to be a surprising monster of an album.



'Sub Terra' is probably one of the biggest surprises the metal underground has spawned this year and one of the most challenging albums to review out there. Out of the blue comes this monster of an album, created by a band many surely know nothing about, this reviewer included; you might have heard bits and snippets from the band's previous efforts, but this current album is an explosive material you wouldn't be able to forget quickly, a showmanship of dark metal finesse of the highest order. But, like with every Totalrust release, which can fluctuate between the extremely good and the extremely dull, this album was approached with caution. With low expectations in one hand, and full attention held firmly by the other hand, this album's darkness was penetrated, the layers peeled and the heart of the album exposed - and what great sights it has got to show you!

'Sub Terra' isn't an innovative album, to say the least. It exhibits nothing you haven't heard before in terms of technical prowess, aesthetics, sound or song writing abilities. 'Sub Terra' won't reveal to you anything new in respect to its production values or creativity. It's not that - it's the feel and the atmosphere these Dutch musicians create that will astound you and kick you in the fucking head. More than that, the very music isn't a mere listening experience, but better described (and better enjoyed) as a ritual, a sonic dark ritual, or a soundtrack thereof, composed and realized through means - this reviewer isn't even sure what they are, even after listening to the album numerous times back to back. In a nutshell, this album is a mystery; the mystery lies with the notion that 'Sub Terra' is a magical and alluring piece of metal, despite the fact its facade and fundamental sonic building blocks are not even remotely spectacular.

A combination of excellent, inherently melodic riffs that scream familiarity and grandeur, an interesting selection of velocities and guitar sounds, and an assorted, yet carefully constructed and executed selection of songs, which don't stagnate into one routine - make this album unique in its own right. But it's the spirit, the intangible aspects, that make 'Sub Terra' such a unique experience, as Abysmal Darkening have managed to transcend their own primitivity, sublimating it into a metaphysical experience.

'Sub Terra' is a vile, mean and bitter album; its evil intent smeared across the album's seven tracks, each track bears a brand of singularity, especially found in the drum work (going from the primitive to the progressive and vice versa) and the vocals (ranging between acrid growls, searing shrieks, suicidal moans, madman's shrills, didgeridoo-like chants and hums and deep, hermetic clean singing). What's more, the guitars incessantly change face; there's the basic distortion, but this one sounds almost synthetic and clinically cold; and there is, in addition, an array of other effects that make the music varied and intriguing. A Paradise Lost wah-wah effect, a Black Sabbath groove or a Tiamat ('Wildhoney' era) borrowed riff, all intermingle with the basic Black/Dark Metal aesthetic, and by crafty hands they all become one - an austere, depressive and sunless aural embodiment of the end of days.

This album will make you become hooked, totally immersed and mesmerized by a set of beautifully and perfectly dark tones the simple yet so very cruel riffs paint across the empty, grey-scaled skies of 'Sub Terra'. All things dead, almost dead, and those that are never dead, have gathered under the canopy of one of the darkest, most bleak and mysterious albums created in recent times. All things rotten, broken and black as the human heart have joined forces to inspire this band and in turn are being manifested through the sounds of 'Sub Terra'.

This album is as close to perfection as it gets, and despite its simplistic nature, it will conjure sights that are extraordinary and in most cases hidden from daylight. This album proves (once more, like few others) that metal music does not have to be super-duper sophisticated in order for it to be able to steer the listeners from their habitual apathy and indifference; awaken the audience from their slumber and their comfort zone, and remind us of the fact that in a world that has become so desensitizing, some music still makes us feel and bleed, bleed and feel.


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Reviewer's rating: 9/10

Information

Tracklist :
1. Awakening The Deathless Sleeper
2. Wolves Of Human Blood
3. In Lightless Seas
4. A King Forever
5. From The Grail
6. The Crone
7. De Doodgraver

Duration : Approx. 46 minutes

Visit the Abysmal Darkening bandpage.

Reviewed on 2015-06-05 by Chaim Drishner
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