October 11, 2015

Review - Abyssal – Antikatastaseis.

Abyssal – Antikatastaseis (2015)

Profound Lore Records (CD) Iron Bonehead Productions (Gatefold DLP)

Review by Trevor Proctor.

One of many positive factors with reviewing music is the volume you’re lucky to have access to, occasionally bringing bands to your attention that you may not have heard about as quickly were it not for that promotional email hitting your inbox. This was certainly the case for me when Iron Bonehead Productions gave the excellent “Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius” by Abyssal a thoroughly deserved vinyl release back in January 2014. “Novit…” had previously been released on CD during 2013, first by the band then by Profound Lore Records and also got released on cassette by the UK’s Exitium Productions.
I liked the sound of Abyssal and their music so I decided to give it a go and review it for The Lair of Filth. At this stage I’d been reviewing music for 2-3 months and had heard a lot of underground music that had impressed me but nothing that prepared me for the aural assault set to ensue on listening to Abyssal - you can access my review of "Novit...." here. At this stage I was also fortunate enough to be given the chance of interviewing the band, which you can also access here. Fast forward 18 months and I’m still very happily reviewing for The Lair but if you were to ask me which bands I’d listened to during this time that had made the biggest impression then Abyssal would be one of the first that would spring to mind. I constantly return to their albums and since hearing “Novit…” on digital I’ve sought out every release on every format available – yes, they really are that good.


Abyssal are one of the UK’s prime purveyors of extreme and obscure underground music whose debut album “Denouement” was released independently on CD at the beginning of 2012, later getting an official CD release by Polish label Hellthrasher Productions during 2013 with the same label releasing it on vinyl a year later. Denouement was followed by the previously mentioned masterpiece “Novit enim Dominus…” To me Abyssal have a unique sound but if you need a comparison imagine combining the intensity of Portal and the horrific eccentricity of Ævangelist with some of the heaviest, most smothering music out there and you’re fairly close. However, while Abyssal may have elements and sounds similar to these bands they’re delivered with their own unique take and style, making for music that’s all their own. The difficulty reviewing an album like this is every track features so many moments of brilliance and even more moments of uniqueness that differentiate it from a lot of current music. It’s so good you could talk about every track and still not come close to capturing the genius contained. One of Abyssal’s strong points is their ability to create totally suffocating, oppressive music and this ability is apparent during opener “I Am the Alpha and the Omega” as they set the stage with over six minutes of smothering all-encompassing death/doom. Another factor that sets them aside from many bands is the variation throughout their music – there’s neither formula nor pattern and this variation also adds to their individuality. Track two, “The Cornucopian” illustrates this as it progresses from a tribal drumming intro to an all-out assault of pure suffocating death but with Abyssal there’s always a catch and just when you think foot to the mat destruction is the order of the day they break the pace right down with a few keyboard notes after three minutes before plunging us into the final section of the track which is strangely emotive and lifts the spirits in its own destructive way.

Abyssal aren’t shy when it comes to creating longer tracks yet no matter how long there’s never a moment of boredom or repetition as another of their abilities is their use of all effects weird, wonderful and horrific to break things up and add to that unpredictable nature – you’re guaranteed plenty of surprises during Abyssal’s music. This factor is shown during track three “Veil of Transcendence” which breaks to a doom like pace after five minutes, when a weird sample kicks in that sounds like a creepy broken Victorian jewellery box - no doubt there’ll be plenty of differing opinions as to what this sample actually is but no matter what its origin is it’s moments like this that remind me why I love this band so much – only bands like Abyssal can use odd sounds like this with such intriguing and devastating effect.

The production levels have sharpened slightly, giving their music a more focused approach and in comparison to “Novit…” this feels like a more solid album as a whole. Don’t get me wrong, “Novit…” is and always will be a classic, but as an overall album this is slightly more cohesive and that cohesion in turn gives their hostility a more honed approach, making it all the more effective. All of Abyssal’s albums are brilliant in my opinion but there’s undoubtedly a progression from each to the next and “Antikatastaseis” is their most accomplished work to date.

Unpredictable, unconventional and filled with horrific brilliance this is one of 2015’s essential albums.



1 – I am the Alpha and the Omega
2 - The Cornucopian
3 - Veil of Transcendence
4 - Telomeric Erosion
5 - A Causal Landscape
6 – Chrysalis
7 - Delere Auctorem Rerum Ut Universum Infinitum Noscas.

The CD digipack is currently available from Profound Lore Records and both CD and Gatefold DLP are available from Iron Bonehead Productions. The DLP is available in black or very limited blue/black splatter vinyl.

No comments: