Review Summary: Dynamics, suspense, release, catharsis.I kind of
have a thing for albums that I, for one reason or another, associate with what is going on in my head. Like, if my thoughts, experiences, emotions and so on had a soundtrack. If they could be translated to vibrations of the molecules of the air, how would the offal of my skull sound? An example of such an album is Tim Hecker’s Konoyo. Sometimes, especially on bright, beautiful mornings when the sun flows in through my window, my head sounds like Konoyo. One fleeting thought/synth takes over from the previous, sometimes they start weaving together, ebbing back and forth. It’s beautiful. And then, suddenly, some kind of weird ***ing japanese classical music comes out of nowhere and I take another sip of my coffee.
So it is with Abyssal as well.
After an initial
8-minute opening blast, “Shapes Upon the Retina” enters. One track of scorching, warped death metal is followed of ambience and noise. It’s a beauty of a track. Abyssal sure knows how to utilize the vocals and ambience together and, when the noise and drums hits around mid-track, it evolves into a monster. Climax. It relaxes once more, only to rise again and finish off with two minutes of death metal similar to that experienced in “Dialogue”. Climax.
Next track. “Awakening”. Here, again, Abyssal masterfully utilizes dynamics and offers an doom-ish death track following the fast-paced two minute closing of the “Shapes Upon the Retina”. “Awakening” is followed by two minutes of probably the most “normal” death metal of this release in “The Cloisters Beneath the Grime” which, you’ve guessed it, changes midway and finishes off with touches of doom again. So it keeps going throughout the entire album. It’s a ride. Up and down constantly in both intensity and emotion.
All the time
, even though sounding superficially like Immolation, Portal, or the Chasm, Abyssal is himself. There’s a drum outro on “Khyphotic Suzerains” which is pretty cool. I’ve praised Abyssal for the dynamics, but I would like to point out that, if it were up to me, I would have placed “Shapes Upon the Retina” as either the first track or in the middle of the album. It functions, for some of it’s run time, more or less as a breather, but you don’t really need it after only 8 minutes of “Dialogue”.
So, I figure
my head sometimes sound like this. Or, if you’ve followed me this far in the review, evokes the same kind of feeling that is evoked by what is going on in my head. A large part of this is probably due to the production. This is some twisted and warped ***. Portal-esque, but not really. Dense and suffocating. Listen to it, man, it’s hard to describe. It’s beautiful as well.
Another characteristic of “A Beacon in the Husk” is the ever present vocals. They’re great: Deep and frightening. But he just never ***ing shuts up, which might get a bit much for some people. One will not find lengthy, jaw-dropping instrumental sections like in “Chrysalis” of his previous album. The vocals everywhere, in every nook and cranny of my skull and they just never shut up and never leave me alone. Like my thoughts.
Until we reach
the final track “Soliloquy”, that is. No vocals, no guitars - Only ambience. It’s almost like he’s giving you a chance to step back and look at the destruction and the dust slowly falling towards the ground and settling while singular rays of sunshine peep through the clouds. It’s beautiful.
Luckily, when it feels dense and suffocating inside my head, I can often find beauty in it, just as I can in “A Beacon in the Husk”.