Black/death metal has often been associated with bands of the Polish veins, with bands such as Behemoth or Infernal War bearing the flag of this sub-genre of black or death metal. But mysterious UK black/death metal band Abyssal provides a nice surprise with their debut full length album, Denouement, which sees a reissue a short year after its original release date under Polish label Hellthrasher Productions.
Opening track The Moss Upon Our Ruins set down a grim and cold mood with the Norwegian black metal-inspired riffs and atmosphere, with one being quickly reminded of bands such as Mayhem and the likes. Yet very quickly the first brutal riffs hit the listener, and one would immediately know that he is in for a nice treat. There are certainly some slight Polish references here and there with the riffs in the music, but things are certainly much more disturbing over here. The band often alternates between crushing and brutal riffs, complete with the usual heavy, death metal styled chugging and more trebly, traditional black metal riffing style, with the haunting atmosphere completed with the usage of the lead guitars that are layered above the heaviness that lurks beneath.
The black metal influences that the band has include on Denouement leans rather heavily to the French tradition, with the dissonant chords and riffing style, along with the overall weirdness and somewhat organised chaos being somewhat reminiscent of bands like Aosoth or Deathspell Omega, and honestly this is what made Abyssal‘s music stand out from the large numbers of black/death metal releases of late. And it is also the inclusion of such unique influences in their brand of extreme metal that ensures that Denouement is an album that manages to stay disturbing and create a sense of unease from the start right through the end for the listener.
Throughout the album, the band is also careful in not letting the album stick to a single style or pace throughout, and slower passages are often intertwined with faster and more chaotic ones for maximum impact, such as on Celestial Dictatorship, and the results are certainly stunning, catching the listener when least expected and allowing the full effect of the sudden shift of gears to hit the listener hard. Sound samples are also used on slower segments like those on Celestial Dictatorship, and these help in emphasising the disturbance that one is supposed to feel when listening to Denouement. It is also such sudden shifts that allow the drummer to display his abilities, going from slower and heavier doom passages to full-on blastbeats, like a relentless, tireless machine.
There are too many things happening all at once on Denouement, and this certainly left me overwhelmed on my first listen. But with numerous listens, one would gradually discover the excellence that Abyssal has crafted with their debut.