Abyssal – Antikatastaseis ALBUM REVIEW

This has been heavily hyped and spammed on my corners of the internet, which is probably why I put this off for so long. Generally if an album is talked about as being the greatest thing since sliced bread, and it’s posted over and over and over again until you get tired of it, that’s generally an album you want to avoid in my experience. But I went ahead and listened to this anyway in my attempt to catch up on this years releases, and I must say I’m relatively pleased. Abyssal does a great job of buildup and creating tension. The drum intro to The Cornucopian gave me goosebumps of the scared kind and perfectly setup what came after it. That’s a unique aspect of this album. Lots of albums are good at creating tension and buildup, but more often than not the setup doesn’t actually compliment what comes afterward. They can individually sound great, but together they don’t necessarily fit, or feel like a logical step. Every setup to the knockout punch feels natural and logical, which is a great strength about this album. Unfortunately, this is done in a clear pattern that goes along the lines of *uuuuuuuuuu with fuzzy noises**ambient section* and repeat. It sounds more like a bunch of individual ideas rather than flowing together. While not all albums have to be a coherent string of evolving tracks, I feel like variety in the way they went about these ideas would’ve greatly helped. What I will give Abyssal credit for is by having variety of different ways to use that pattern, be it the building drum intro I mentioned before, or the setup on the last track. The final track Delere auctorem rerum ut universum infinitum noscas (is it really too hard for this band not to make every title word vomit?) is built up by basically just noise getting louder and louder. Sounds pretty simple, but it’s simplicity is what makes it so unnerving. It’s so impersonal, so unnatural, not like something someone would consciously create. And the craziest thing about it is what follows, which is tonality of all things! Cavernous dissonance is what you previously think is everything to do with this album. But then you get thrown a very well deserved bone at the very end and you get to hear something most people feel like they should hear anytime they listen to music, which is tonal harmony. I really feel without that this would’ve been a tiring experience not worth listening to. Antikatastaseis still has that issue even without the one bit of tonal music. It feels like for the most part it’s a one trick pony, and while that is a good trick, you can only watch it do that trick so many times before you want to move on to the next trick, no matter how many variations of that trick they do.


Sulphur Aeon – Gateway to the Antisphere ALBUM REVIEW

Me and straight up death metal just don’t get along. Sure, we don’t dislike each other at all, but our relationship extends as nothing more than as next door neighbors who say hi to each other each morning, but have little communication between each aside from that. I suppose as a result, this album did absolutely nothing for me. Despite having one of the best cover arts of the year, and lots of hype from what others have said about it, I spun this album and just sat there for the first half and it had absolutely 0 effect on me. I honestly can’t tell if this is a personal problem or if this album really is just dull as hell.

As a positive, the vocals are absolutely fantastic. I’ve never been the biggest fan of death vocals, but even I can recognize that this is some high quality work. Guttural enough to get the atmosphere, but not so much that they sound like pig squeals. And the production value is also really well done. Everything seems to be just the right volume, nothing feels to plastic or amateurish, it’s just right. That’s about where my praise ends. There really isn’t a list of flaws I can give to critique this album, the main problem is that the entire thing has nothing I can get into. There are no riffs (despite others having claimed there are), no atmosphere, no aesthetic, nothing. It just, and I hate typing this because most of the time it’s a result of ignorance rather than truth, sounds like noise to me. There’s not much to differentiate between the tracks. I guess maybe you could go for the theme of chaos, but nothing is really chaotic or out of the ordinary for a death metal album here. I know I keep repeating it, but there really isn’t anything interesting about this album in the slightest.

So then why an above-average rating? Two reasons:
1. I recognize that at least on a technical level this is a good album
2. I’m nowhere near confident in my opinion of this work. I feel, like previously mentioned before, that I’ve never been able to fully “get” death metal. Typically the death metal I do like is either progressive, technical, death doom, or some other sub genre. Just straight death has never been something I could really like. Even the Gruesome album I reviewed earlier this year had the old school, over the top, silly lyric aspect of it I could appreciate. I feel like giving this a rating that I feel it deserves (around a 4.25-4.5) would be out of personal bias than actual merit. So I’m giving it this as sort of an inbetween. I’d actually really like to hear comments on what other people who listened to this thought of the album so maybe I could understand what they liked about it. I am always willing to learn after all.

I think it’s always hard to rate popular albums. If you agree with public opinion then you’re not saying anything new, if you overrate it people think you’re just hyping it up, and if you underrate then you get some hate and are always left wondering if you just don’t get something. In this case I’m leaning on me just not getting it, with a hint of this album really being overrated after all.

EDIT: I finally revisited this, and I think it’s definitely better than I previously thought, albeit not unbelievably so. There certainly is that aspect of ensuing doom like Cthulhu is going to rise up from the seas and engulf the world, but while I do love that atmosphere, the songs tend to sound very samey. Great, but certainly not fantastic.