Abyssal – Inaccessible Lines of Thought

Thursday, 15th May 2014

The recent run of bands playing a specialized, unflinching style of death metal is the result of many things. For starters, the need to wander away from the style’s bastardized basis usually leads some to more weird and spatial avenues, like hot-shots Morbus Chron, or Impetuous Ritual. (Let’s not forget Portal as well.) Along the same lines, the coupling of non-appearance, and sounds deemed otherworldly (read: the abyss) is what pushes the collective buttons of the United Kingdom entity known as Abyssal.

Since 2011, the band (whose members have chosen not to reveal their true identities) has laid down the tarp for outsider death metal. The challenging sounds found on their 2012 Denouement debut have been shoved through a grinder on 2013’s Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius, an album that just saw the reissue treatment via Iron Bonehead Productions this year. As it stands, Abyssal is quick to point to its true motive. And it’s not to entice circle pits, that’s for sure.

“This kind of music is more inclined toward engulfing the listener than entertaining them with hooks,” says an unidentified member. “Does this mean that average listeners cannot enjoy the music? I would say they are perfectly able, so long as the listener understands the aims of the music. In a way, this is an attribute which is borrowed heavily from black and doom metal schools of thought, who have been experimenting with hypnotic and multi-layered atmospheria for decades – the addition of this to a death metal idiom is a more recent development on a large scale, but it too is nothing new per se. Listeners who recognize this line of thought should have no trouble tackling Abyssal’s music.”

Being that at large, the metal press is consumed by image, the fact Abyssal has none to speak of has become a major point of focus. Simply by result of not having an image, unfortunately, has done the opposite for the band: It has raised even more questions. “This has become a strange talking point surrounding Abyssal,” he says. “Many other bands within extreme metal actively pursue anonymity by using pseudonyms or otherwise, and receive little questioning when they do so. Abyssal simply omitted member names and other trivialities from the notes of Denouement, but has for some reason identities have become a source of great interest for many. There is no conspiracy – the internet will yield the answers relatively quickly for those who look. For the meantime, I find there is no need to litter album art with lists of names or meaningless thanks lists – this ruins the aesthetic and tone of the artwork.”

And let’s not get started on social media. Not happening with Abyssal, either.

“There is a shockingly poor Facebook page that has been created for the band by a third party – this has not been sanctioned in any way. Social media certainly has its uses, but for a band which does not regularly play live, and has the support of fantastic labels and listeners for publicity, there is simply no need for one. Similarly, seeing the kind of superfluous drivel that comes from many band pages, we feel that such activity would take much off the sheen from the music. As it stands, the Bandcamp site and a YouTube page are more than enough for Abyssal to publicize.”

Citing the likes of Incantation, along with the previously-mentioned Impetuous Ritual, and Portal as inspiration, Abyssal comes (to these ears) precariously close to going over the edge at various points on Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius. This is the main draw behind the band; that hair and atom-splitting death metal can be made into something palpable and gripping. “I would not say the album goes ‘too far’ – there are a great deal of strange sections, but the songs retain a degree of structure throughout,” he chimes in. “Much of the material is ironically relatively easy to play due to the loose feel of much of the music precluding the need for extreme tightness.”

According to the band, album #3 is well underway. Whether it will continue the path found on Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eiu remains to be seen, but, the band cautions for folks to not hold their breath. Abyssal does what Abyssal wants to do.

“The writing process is nearing completion, but will likely go through a great deal of fine tuning from here onwards. The album is shaping up as much more audacious and complex than either of its predecessors. I cannot fully say what to expect at the moment as there is so much that is yet undefined, but the album will be a noticeable departure from the first two, whilst retaining the same core values.”

Abyssal Bandcamp