Abstract Void – Wishdream [Things You Might Have Missed 2021]

In hindsight, 2018 stood me at an imperceptible crossroads: the intersection of my growing disenchantment with metal and a void-filling infatuation with the electronic. The latter was encouraged, if not inspired, by a Frankensteinian atmoblack/synthwave monster released at the improbably right space-time to capitalize on the trends I loved and tired of. Abstract Void‘s Back to Reality would ride that wave of serendipity to become my most listened-to album of the next few years. At least until Wishdream came along.

Yes, there is novelty in the uncanny valley of synthetic instrumentation and synthwave melody, bright and strange as it is. On a base level though, the lone, anonymous figure behind Abstract Void understands music, and how to make it well. Any album may find riches so long as it obeys the holy tenets — Originality, Imagination, Clarity, and Cohesion — regardless of the genre(s) at play. That’s what pushes Wishdream forward. As opposite as the Genre of the Minute1 and the What Goes Bump in the Night of metaldom seem, Wishdream‘s success traces back to those principles. The too-fast bass pedals and thrumming guitar rhythms are as necessary as any of the high-flying melodies or intricate beat contortions.

Everywhere you look are the hallmarks that Abstract Void understands — and cares for — the role of its metal as atmospheric propellant, blasting copious synthwave earwvrms further into the stars. However, the metal isn’t trapped in that role. Opener “Forward to the Past” establishes that dynamic and immediately inverts it. “Midnight Heart” stands out for its captivating intro, but finds its best moments when the axe counterbalances the synth in the chorus. The same happens on “New Vision.” Hell, “Impermanence” even gets on top of that keg and chugs in the midsection. Wishdream‘s synth fireworks so effortlessly engender a surface-level familiarity with the cascades of exhilaration that it is easy to not see the atmospheric black metal forest for the trees. But trust me, they’re there, one last sign of appreciation for the backbone of the record.

It makes sense, then, that the record’s only misstep comes when Abstract Void eases off that forward momentum on the stunted, anticlimactic closer “Release.” The song plays like an overlong interlude, slowly petering out when the album should be roaring to a close. Still, that is a small price to pay for the technical marvels at work here. The production is fantastic in all the right places, but especially in how it makes the entirely artificial seem less so. Abstract Void leverages that ability to sprinkle so many clever, little technical moments across the record, rewarding careful listens and regular replays.

And that’s what I intend to do, what I’ve already done with Wishdream; play it until I’m sick of it, play it some more. Because this is what I — and what I think the scene — need: acts willing to do more than just what’s been done before. I dream for greater heights to reach yet for Abstract Void, and I pray for more like them.

Tracks to Check Out: “Forward to the Past,” “Midnight Heart,” “Beyond the Horizon”

Show 1 footnote

  1. Though you could argue synthwave is on the back nine nowadays.
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