Review Summary: Not all wheels need reinventing.
California's Abstracter are not your typical metal outfit, swapping sludge, post metal, doom, crust and small doses of punk to ultimately swallow the listener whole, taking its enveloping sound to a new level. Wound Empire
placates while oppressing, it's actually quite a feat considering the record's "done before" soundscape, managing to pull of a full sound without compromising musianship. Wound Empire
is aesthetically pleasing and not, but in the best of ways. Building from the band's previous record (and debut) Tomb Of Feathers
, Abstracter bring an ambivalence through ambiance to their 2015 release. To say that Wound Empire
is atmospheric is a complete understatement, the album relies on it, is swelled by it and ultimately brings Abstracter to an eerie greatness reserved for the bands with this distinct style.
Despite having all the makings of a slow doom inspired sludge record, Wound Empire
remains quite up-tempo, building a contrast between the sinister overtones and bleak outlook created by such an album. In comparison, the tempo becomes the "yin of the yang" and the "light to the dark", all of which helps Abstracter be the successful forty-three minute escapade it is. At the record's core, it is quite oppressive. From the melancholic tones of 'Open Veins' which builds on itself manifesting in raw sludge tones, low, slow and strong to the reflective 'Glowing Wounds' which closes the album. Each track has its place in the jig-saw, although not each piece is a perfect fit. The harsh tones found in most sludge albums melt away into transcendental crooning and clean guitar tones. Abstracter know they don't have to blow away the listener, in fact the effect draws them in, attracting them to the lighter side of decay and reflection (see 'Glowing Wounds' in full). The atmosphere is already there, swelling on the listeners' cerebral. It becomes almost "black-gazey" relying on simple instrumental and even wailed scream passages layered on sensual riff work and trudging drum/bass lines. There's a level of genius to be found in the albums simplicity, simply because it sounds anything but. The track itself is the album's climax, with no real let off. It's by design that the tension found in album opener 'Lightless' can continue throughout the entire of the record.
is not going to please all fans of the sludge, doom and post metal world, nor is it going to surpass the likes of Thou in memorability. Instead Wound Empire
is happy to be its own element, its own space, making its specific impact on the listener. It almost goes without saying that music like this can relate too well to those experiencing loss or distance from others, but that also makes it so great. Overall Abstracter's Wound Empire
may not stick with you all year long, but while the getting is good, get on it. With a tendency to push all senses it can become all too much, but in a smothering, hold onto me sense. For listeners with a taste for this sort of music, there's a lot here to enjoy. Abstracter paint a picture in which to immerse yourself completely.