Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Abysmal Grief - Blasphema Secta (2018)

Abysmal Grief. Even if I don't stick the word "fucking" in the middle, it's an evocative name with an inherent power behind it. It screams of misery beyond normal convention - an inner darkness that could only be unearthed by extreme measures. I've been an Abysmal Grief fan for several years now and their music has always lived up to their name. Their fifth full-length album "Blasphema Secta" is no exception - it's the first album I was looking forward to this year and it's lived up to all my expectations and then some. This is scathing doom metal heavy with the atmosphere of a gothic horror as though the sound was born in the middle of a thunderstorm at a Transylvanian castle. The 3 and a half minute introduction plays chilling synthesized strings and organ over a sea of ambient sounds including a crackling fire and blowing winds that will come to bookend each track. It establishes an air of sophistication and terror right away and builds tension before gliding into the second track "Behold The Corpse Revived". It starts with a forlorn violin, but then with the chime of a bell and a wretched scream, the coffin lid is ripped off and the decent into darkness truly begins. The violin will resurface periodically throughout the rest of the piece as the drums pound a steady, even-keeled assault, the keys sing out with sinister intent, and the guitar growls like it's ready to bite you at any moment. Entwined in this malevolent mix are the vocals which command your attention with a sepulchral rasp. Eventually this song gives way to a the third track "Maleficence" blasting an eerie keyboard melody and grizzly rhythms fit for a ballroom dance of the undead. The fourth track "Witchlord" is one that Abysmal Grief dragged up from deep within the crypt - it's actually a cover of a song by the now defunct Italian black metal band Evol. Consequently, you do hear black metal influence pushing through here - especially in the vocal performance - but it's still well in line with the other material on this album. You can feel the song stewing in hatred, but it calms itself for organ passages and some clean guest vocals. "When Darkness Prevails" is a more subtle tune than the rest with soft choirs and synth work that will make your hair stand on end - it's an opportunity to let the atmosphere soak in before the fury of the final track "Ruthless Profaners". This is an excellent song to end the album on as it feels like the culmination of everything that came before it. It's a decadently evil combination of haunting synth and organ, dark snarling metal, ritual chants, and harsh vocals that eventually closes with a piece that seems fit for a cathedral. Blasphema Secta is definitely an album I got lost in. I wanted to complain about how short it seemed, but when I checked the length it's a solid 45 minutes - I was just so engrossed in what I was hearing I didn't realize how much time had passed. This album is an absolutely incredible work - another awesome entry in Abysmal Grief's catalog. Highly recommended to anyone who hungers for darkness, horror, and doom!- Brandon

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