Review Summary: A heavyweight contender for 2014's top progressive metal album.
Imagine a more progressive-leaning collaboration between Strapping Young Lad-era Devin Townsend and Jari Maenpaa of Wintersun with a few splashes of Cynic/Atheist influence thrown in, all put together with a high premium on quality and you've got Abstruse Imbeciles Nailed On Slavery
in a nutshell. Well, except for the mouthfuls that band name "Lost Ubikyst in Apeiron" and album title Abstruse Imbeciles Nailed On Slavery
are - there's no explaining those choices.
All the same, a few literary crimes are easy to forgive in light of the magnificent musical product LUIA provides on Abstruse Imbeciles
. The record simply hits all at once from the opening shout of "GO!", laying on a continuous stream of impressive progressive metal that exemplifies all of the genre's best qualities and few of its flaws. While the primary mover on Abstruse Imbeciles
is a pummeling, low riff machine and a programmed double bass kick that, at times, puts Gene Hoglan to shame, each track keeps fresh by constantly varying its chord progressions in memorable ways while inlaying intricate guitar, synth, and even bass melodies. An impressive, powerful, and emotive vocal outing with a low range reminiscent of Matt Barlow and screams somewhere between Devin Townsend and Randy Blythe is just the shiny red bow that seals the deal.
For such a lengthy album (right around 70 minutes, with its shortest real track clocking in at just under five minutes), Abstruse Imbeciles
does a great job varying each track's pace to keep things interesting yet keeping things consistent enough to be cohesive. Tracks such as "Final Roar" begin with subdued and bright, clean strumming, yet the tempo quickly fires up and that same placid-but-tense chordal strumming turns into something dense and dangerous. Hooks both subtle and overt dot the record from cover to cover and come in all shapes and sizes ranging from the innocuous bass of "Final Roar" to the ringing six-string leads of opener "Nothing to S(l)ave."
Simply put, the overall attention to detail paid on Abstruse Imbeciles
is incredibly intentional and impeccable. Every instrument shines through as needed, but equally astonishing are some of the astounding melodies intentionally hidden among some of the weightier passages on the album that create subliminal hooks and grooves under what might seem to be just a simple verse. It's one thing to build an incredible album, but it's intricacies such as this that elevate Abstruse Imbeciles
to another level and build success on top of a consistent tone and persistent theming.
Of course, all of the eccentricities you'd expect of a progressive metal pinnacle are here as well - brief, but tasteful and intriguing ventures into chiptunes, robotic vocals a la
Cynic, atmospheric breaks, elegant self-harmonizations, and more. Really, in the hands of any other artist, the pure ambition on this album could be a recipe for disaster. Yet, somehow, the unity of mind shown by sole musician for Lost Ubikyst in Apeiron, French multi-instrumentalist "Schrissse," brings everything together in an outstanding package that stands at the top of the progressive metal food chain.
It might be easy for some to play off the fact that Abstruse Imbeciles
is as tight and clever as it is based on the fact that it's a work six years in the making. But, to be honest, it's a rare crowd that ever reaches this pinnacle of performance. Schrissse - whoever he is - needs to give himself a huge pat on the back, as does the progressive metal industry. This is a record that's simply too good to ignore.