Review Summary: A hulking husk indeed.
At face value it’s baffling just how much weight and agreeance we can pursue in regards to truly unwelcoming, distasteful and inaccessible music. The Anaal Nathrakh (early), Ulcerate and Cannibal Corpse’s (just to drop a few loose references) of this world all took hold of just how unwelcoming human-kind are and gave them an audible dissonant platform to which we measure pain anguish, fear, loss and anger through sound. The speed and furor of the acts mentioned above were equally balanced out as all elements of doom came crashing through our speakers. The world’s population (for the most part) will naturally think there’s something wrong with the kind of person who finds such indiscriminately inaccessible music enjoyable, but to those select few there’s very little wrong in the way Abyssal holds its swirling chasm of jarring melody and relentless cacophony. A Beacon In The Husk
is by definition; inaccessible, yet hauntingly beautiful in its down-trodden despair and anguish.
Occasionally called the “poor man’s Portal” (and a reference that does actually make sense, at least for some part) Abyssal have always teetered on the edge of death metal glory, often by piggy-backing off the similarities between others and themselves. It’s not without merit, and not at all a shot against the band nestling into an unworldly niche of cavernous, earth defying growls and buckets of musical incongruity - but the near constant comparisons to Ulcerate, Portal and Mitochondrion (just to name a spare few) have left a shadow to which Abyssal have not surfaced from. It’s probably worth mentioning that they don’t particularly care to escape the chasms created by the acts named above, but instead has allowed a natural progression in sound that matures with each listen.
A Beacon In The Husk
is about as far from a casual listen as chalk is to cheese. It takes multiple expeditions into the UK based outfit’s latest to make any discernible notion as to which plane of hell Abyssal represent. The triple phrasing shown throughout the almost hour long runtime showcases just how Abyssal’s focus on earth-ending atmosphere placates and need for longing or hopefulness, living happily (or is that unhappily?) within the realms of murk-filled musical warfare. The manic upset left by the opener, “Dialogue” leaves very little to guess work becoming spacious in its enormity. The terminally death/doom approach moves the listener towards the album’s more ‘meatier’ sections with some latency, allowing for a primeval sense of dread as A Beacon In The Husk
section creates a need for the mind to inwardly scream at itself, without the need for breathe or reprieve. As the listener hurtles face-first into the blackness, unable to escape the bleakness increases intensity, somehow becoming deeper and even less forgiving. “Awakening / Metamorphosis” defines this example as layer upon layer bridges the gap between what the mind can deal with and the music it’s presented with. It’s a measured, mature approach as Abyssal masters the craft of unrelenting music, without peaking too early within the album’s larger than life run-time.
However it’s not until the album’s second phasing that we rejoice at the pure despair A Beacon In The Husk
has to offer. Discernment
is the business end of the 2019 Abyssal effort and the act’s formula takes everything up a notch. Spiraling guitar work, demon inducing vocal passages that resonate with a surreal triumphant atmosphere that soars through diabolical rites of straight-forward, but completely eviscerating musicianship before moving into the tropes that inspire all manners of Portal-esque comparisons.
By the time Abyssal’s chapter of Descent
surfaces, all sorts of misgivings transcend the need for basic human personification. It’s as though the very aesthetic of inaccessible music has transformed into its own being, a beast of burden and sheer will. There’s a technicality, again that moves a step up from earlier sections. From the devastation of mind to the left-field triumphant atmospheres, coupled with no small amounts of intense barraling instrumental prowess Abyssal have once again proved that stiff music can be violent, flexible, relatable and relentless… without losing those core essences that attract a certain type of fan. It’s a devastating mix of doom and death, but equally hauntingly beautiful for being at the complete other end of the spectrum to what those ‘normal’ people consider grand.