Review Summary: Forget swine flu, this is Mexican death (metal) done right.
As long as we’re not concerning ourselves with song and album titles, the Chasm have made careers out of being masterful writers. Throughout their extended tenure, they’ve made a name with their expansive, tense brand of death metal. They’ve showed an uninhibited, above average knowledge of song-writing and an incendiary grasp on climaxes. But there’s always been one hurdle–the vocals. Daniel Corchado isn’t exactly Corpsegrinder. However with Farseeing the Paranormal Abysm
(remember what I said about titles?), the Chasm took what some would call a risk. I call it sensible. As you’ll undoubtedly realize, Farseeing the Paranormal Abysm
is largely instrumental. I’d reckon it’s somewhere close to 50% vocal-less. It’s better for it, too.
I’ll be blunt–Farseeing the Paranormal Abysm
is a strong contender for death metal album of the year. And I won’t ramble; there’s very little wrong with it. Farseeing the Paranormal Abysm
brings several unique elements to the proverbial table. It then goes on to smash them with a hammer and weld them into a new beast altogether. Which, conveniently enough, is how The Chasm seem to write songs. They often base entire tracks around only a couple of riffs riffs, which, given the length of some of these tracks, is a testament to their talents. A riff will often sneak in, alone, until it repeats with a bass, then drums, then another guitar. Sometimes you even get vocals. From there, the songs tend to play around within themselves; they speed up, bend and distort. This isn't to say the songs are limited to a small number of riffs (in fact it's quite the contrary), merely that they use one or two riffs as their jumping off point. I’m sure you’ll want specifics.
“Entering a Superior Dimension” spends over 8 minutes on essentially one riff and one speedy time change. It does end on a gloomy, almost diminutive note, but it’s the simple dynamic that gets us there. Throughout the tense 8 minute runtime of “Callous Spectre/Vehement Opposition” you’ll occasionally notice the semblance of keyboards. Usually you won’t. You’ll also keep expecting vocals to come in. They don’t. But the Chasm’s ability to build tracks almost exponentially by adding otherwise simple variations to singular ideas will keep you on your toes. If you’re sitting down, they’ll push you to the edge of your seat. You’re left waiting for what never comes. And in the end, the journey, however Mexican it may be, was worth it.
We should probably talk about vocals. I don’t want to, and in listening to Farseeing the Paranormal Abysm
, I can guess I’m probably not alone here. But like the band, vocals are an issue we must revisit. The Chasm does so on “Fiery Rebirth,” a track that features an early vocal outburst that bears a striking similarity to the Cookie Monster. Note the capitals: when I say Cookie Monster, I’m not referring to what your parents call Mikael Akerfedlt when your Opeth album seeps out from your headphones. At times, but especially on “Fiery Rebirth”, Daniel Corchado sounds like the
Cookie Monster. From Sesame Street. Luckily the vocals are usually less invasive and typically involve more than the bizarrely unwelcomed “ARGHHHS” that litter “Fiery Rebirth”. You’ll sometimes notice higher rasps, which work quite well and by all accounts should have been more predominantly featured. But this is the reason Farseeing the Paranormal Abysm
’s instrumental base works as well as it does. More often than not the album does without its groaned, shout-y croaks, leaving little for the listener to complain about.
It's hard to complain about the vocals because they're few and far between and the guitars often carry a vocal intonation. Some could be frustrated by the band’s circular songwriting, which often continually builds tension that, for some, might go unfulfilled. That’s because the Chasm write songs to explore these tensions, not exploit them. Most won’t be annoyed by this, because the band excels at creating tension in a variety of ways; from “Structures”’ thrashy inflections to “Vaults”’ demonically spiralling (and sometimes gloomy) tone, the band is delivering a unique soundtrack for each aural trip. And trip is a good adjective for the album. Pardon the cliché, but as far as Farseeing the Paranormal Abysm
is concerned, it’s not where you end up but how you get there. Farseeing the Paranormal Abysm
is a moody, inventive death metal album. Don’t let it fall through the cracks.