Review Summary: Bleak and highly atmospheric Australian black metal
When Tasmanian black metal act Carved Cross released their self titled album two years ago, it was a major hit with the underground black metal community. It quickly sold out its 150 copy run of vinyl and made it onto multiple AOTY year lists. It’s safe to say that when Carved Cross released their newest album The Yawning Abyss Of Perdition
, expectations were high. Thankfully for fans of Carved Cross, their album delivered all that could be wanted in a raw black metal album and progressed the band’s sound further than what could be heard on previous releases.
Toning down the nearly impenetrable wall of static that was present on their last album, Carved Cross sound clearer than ever before. The guitar riffs are discernable, and while not every note is able to be heard distinctly, everything that needs to be heard can be. The riffing is simplistic, mid-tempo, and overall not dissimilar to legions of other raw black metal acts, but Carved Cross has an ace up their sleeve. Whereas the previous album focused on creating an enveloping atmosphere by adding in heinous amounts of static, The Yawning Abyss
uses a synthesizer to generate its hazy, dreamlike atmosphere. The synthesizer itself seems to create a shapeless aura of melancholy around the other instruments, coming from all directions at once.
If a listener were to give The Yawning Abyss
a brief listen, the album would seem to be entirely unchanging. However, closer listening reveals its intricacies. This is where the true magnificence of the album casts off its cloak of sameness and reveals itself. Each of the two songs on the album slowly and imperceptibly change their playing throughout the duration. Each single change is slight and hardly noticeable, but they build upon each other to create a different song by the end of each track. Even the drums, while never unusual, change just as the synthesizer and guitar does. While many atmospheric black metal acts either don’t change throughout each song or split an album up into multiple songs The Yawning Abyss
has an A and a B side, both constantly changing. It’s this unique approach to raw black metal that makes this album stand out from the rest.
Overseeing all of these instrumentations is multi-instrumentalist “M.N.” who handled both guitar and drumming duties on the album. While no information is currently available on who provided the synthesizer for the album, I would assume M.N. also handled this. M.N.’s playing on The Yawning Abyss
may not be any better than any standard one-man black metal band, it's what he does with the lack of technicality that makes the album worthwhile. Rounding out the rest of the album is vocalist “S.V.”. His distant, echoing howls are buried somewhat deep in the mix, yet still provide just enough presence to further the raw sound of the album.
There is a fine line between raw black metal being so full of static and fuzz that it almost becomes noise, and raw black metal that has atmosphere and proper musicianship. Where Carved Cross’ self titled album straddled this line, The Yawning Abyss
shows a firm and confident step into the latter section. If you are interested in delving into the murky depths of raw black metal, this album would be a wise choice.