I have to admit, I’m impressed with some of the black metal records so far this year. Of the records that I reviewed, I find myself returning to Ophiuchi, Wiegedood, and Havukruunu on a regular basis. Not to mention the solid output from old-school black metallers, Ofermod and Svartsyn. But, for how excited I’ve been for most of these releases, I was most excited for Limbonic Art‘s Spectre Abysm. If you’ve never heard of these Norwegian symphonic black metal beasts, you should fix that. Though there is a distinct line drawn down the middle of the band’s discography, their consistency still holds true after nearly thirty years of music. The band (or dude, I suppose) always brings something new to the table. Every album is different and each has its own unique character. But, with already one so-so album under their belts since becoming a one-man act, how will the new Spectre Abysm fare in comparison to the classics of Limbonic Art‘s past?

After a stream of incredible albums (all released between 1996 and 1999), the band hit a brick wall. The kind of brick wall that would turn a Honda Fit into a fidget spinner. That brick wall was 2002’s The Ultimate Death Worship. The result was a rough album and a breakup. After a brief hiatus, the band returned with a massive comeback in the form of 2007’s Legacy of Evil. It didn’t have the original feel of the first four albums, but it had a passion and energy that can only be Limbonic Art. And Daemon (without Morfeus) carried that same energy into 2010’s Phantasmagoria. What didn’t carry over was the band’s trademark symphonic elements. Instead, the album turned out some raw black metal with crushing riffs and a runtime about fifteen minutes too long. But, Spectre Abysm is here to try its hand at resurrecting some of those Artsy key-driven atmospheres and bring conciseness back to the fold.

This becomes immediately clear with opener “Demonic Resurrection.” This thing is an epic quest with a fervor of a snarling hellhound. Within its ten-minute length lies a pace made for a second-wave outfit and vocals that alternate between vicious rasps, uncontrollable screams, satanic barkings, throat-rattling lows, and churchy chanting. It’s all over the place but the vocal layers and fluctuations are what make this song (and this album) stand out.

While the opener’s crafted to introduce the character of the record, the closer takes it all away in an equally epic fashion. “Through the Vast Profundity Obscure” continues on from the brooding nightmare that is “Disciplina Arcani”—a song that feels as much like a satanic prayer as it does a machine crafted to bring upon the end of the world. It’s a haunting piece with one of the best vocal performances on the album. And from it, comes the closer; a cut that the rest of the album has been longing for. As it transitions from throttling drum hits and catchy guitar licks to a classic black metal drive, I’m reminded of why I love this band so much. Art has a unique ability to push you into a dark, dingy world that you actually don’t want to escape from. Instead, you find yourself trapped—and happy—in this engulfing quagmire.

Between the opener and closer, you’ll find memorable ditties in the form of “Ethereal Traveller” and “Omega Doom,” layers of keys and organs on “Triumph of Sacrilege” and “Disciplina Arcani,” and loads of satanic chanting in “Requiem Sempiternam” and “Disciplina Arcani.” Of these tracks, “Ethereal Traveller,” “Omega Doom,” and “Triumph of Sacrilege” are favorites. The former two are more about the atmosphere than the riff, while “Triumph” crowns a monstrous riff with pricking drums and keys. Not only do “Ethereal Traveller” and “Omega Doom” have standout vocal arrangements, they also have layers of melodic tremolos. What makes “Triumph of Sacrilege” so special its combination of organs and black-metal aggression. While other tracks have these creepy chords hiding in the back, this track utilizes them in a more profound way.

When it’s all said and done, Spectre Abysm is another solid outing from Daemon’s Limbonic Art. Unfortunately, the two real standouts here are the opener and closer. And the excessive use of spoken word and prayer-like chants in the back of “Omega Doom” and throughout “Disciplina Arcani” and “Requiem Sempiternam” brings to mind The Ultimate Death Worship—my least favorite release. Oh, remember that drum machine on Phantasmagoria? Well… it’s back… Thankfully, like its predecessor before it, there’s still enough to make Spectre Abysm worthwhile. It’s no shining jewel amid the Art discog, but Spectre‘s got some balls and it has a conciseness that makes for easy listens.


Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 128 kbps mp3
Label: Candelight Records
Websites: limbonicart.net
Releases Worldwide: July 7th, 2017

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  • Drew Music

    “I have to admit, I’m impressed with some of the black metal records so far this year.”
    Considering halfway through 2017 we’ve already gotten roughly 50 generations’s worth of black metal, it was always gonna be a safe bet that at least some of them were gonna be good. While we’re on the topic/since I can’t/won’t stop myself, I posit that Somnium Nox, Devouring Star, Blaze of Sorrow, Woe, Wode, Enisum, Ars Magna Umbrae, D Aphelium, Wilt, and Burial Oath are among those fighting viciously for a spot on my AotY for ’17. I really do think, at this point, that I’m going to need a separate list for black metal if I want to accurately reflect any sense of diversity in my finds this year.

    • Name’s Dalton

      I dig how you dig music, man.

      • Drew Music

        I dig hearing that haha it’s definitely my favorite thing out of all the things. Metal’s my favorite for a bunch of reasons, but I can/often jam to Neil Diamond – good Neil Diamond like Lady Magdalene or Solitary Man, none of that Sweet Caroline bullshit – in the same playlist as Saor or Darkthrone. There isn’t enough time in a day or a life for me to go on enough about music, when it’s genuine it’s amazing regardless of genre and I can’t get enough of any of it.

    • Mr T

      2017 also saw Venenum release something quite spectacular.

      • Drew Music

        Slept on that, thanks for redirecting my attention thataway!

    • Dudeguy Jones

      Ars Magna Umbrae def making my list. Woe and Wode vying too.
      Gotta look into these others you mention.

    • Ondřej Hanus

      Also, check out Ragana – You Take Nothing.

      • Drew Music

        I keep meaning to, but 2017 is apparently the year of Kvltageddon and by the time I post this there will be 666 more new black metal bands to check out, keeping up with everything is all but nightmarish at this point.
        Sidenote, if nü black metal is/becomes a thing, we will really need to evaluate our worth as a species.

        • Ondřej Hanus

          Same here, I just thought this one really stood out.
          Honestly, I can’t even keep up with the sub- and sub-sub-genres, let alone the bands. I’ve never heard of nu black metal, but it sounds scary as shit. What bands are playing it?

          • Drew Music

            None, if there’s any justice in this world.

  • Hammersmith

    I feel like I might have their previous album on a hard drive somewhere. Or maybe it’s another Limb related band. Not Limblifter. Great now I have to go find out when I get home from work.

    • Here’s Johnny

      Limb Of God?

    • sathriel

      Limb Bizkit? ;>

  • sir_c

    Mmm the embedded track does not make me grab my sneakers to run to the shop. It’s not a bad song, but it’s not truly compelling either.

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    Is it just me or does that cover look like a cosmic wizard using his magic staff to remove a tattoo?

    • It does now that you said that and I can’t unsee it.

    • James Utvandraren

      I see that now, and that makes sense. Thanks! I thought the inter-dimensional cloud he was fighting had a fake mustache.

  • Wilhelm

    The first three albums are exceptional, Ad Noctem was alright but nothing has touched me since. Something is missing without Morfeus.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      I absolutely agree. Morfeus brought a special touch to those records. And no one knew it until he left.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    Spheres are back.

  • Pablo Santiago

    Does he keep using that vicious drumming machine?

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Yes sir.

  • basenjibrian

    Sold!

  • Johnny Wild

    I just discovered news about new album. No other bm band gave me real demonic dreams like Limbo, everytime I desired. Imagine being woken up by corpse of your dead ex girlfriend, still holding your wrist when eyes opened.. it’s how I realized they are true bm artists. We all are in search for sth different in music and Ultimate Death Worship is defining my fav one, that album has everything and smashes like no other. Thought I still owe some old Limbo tapes, like cassettes I mean. Norwegian bm was one of the reasons I moved to that country nearly decade ago. Thanks for review, I never read them but was pretty surprised when Spotify put me new shit in front of my face. Good news, I’m on a third track now, deep in woods of Finland. (they have good mobile coverage here)

    • Johnny Wild

      and I can’t listen to Phantasmagoria, tried twice and won’t give it another listen, it’s boring as fck

  • Rodney Ford

    I was excited to pick this up as I’ve really liked almost all the LA stuff.
    I’m digging this one as well. Nice to hear the drums are more prominent in the mix this time around. That was the only draw back to Legacy of Evil in my opinion.
    Only thing I would change is to add a bit more of those classic LA synth soundscapes.