Hailing from the Saxony region of Germany, death metallers Abyssous first appeared on the scene with a sodden, bone-breaking crunch with 2012’s …Smouldering demo. The raw, cavernous quality of those tracks attracted the attention of Iron Bonehead Productions, who have released the demo as a full-length with the addition of two new tracks. The LP version of …Smouldering is every bit as dank as the original release, but the additional tracks do more than pad out the length of the record. There is a sense of a more complete narrative arc and a fuller musical construction that improves the album as a whole.
Stylistically speaking, Abyssous favour old-school death metal, both American and European in origin, with plenty of blackened tendencies. Their most obvious influences are Entombed circa Left Hand Path and Altars of Madness by Morbid Angel, with a healthy dose of older Morgoth to boot. They’re not afraid to borrow from classic thrash as well; “Burial Sea” features a guitar solo that is pure Slayer worship. They wear their influences quite proudly on their sleeves, and luckily these inspirations are all wicked an the tributes well-executed.
One of the strengths of …Smouldering is its complex movement and varied pacing. After the atmospheric intro of “Entering The Cave,” “Abominations” alternations between blistering, careening chaos and a wallowing stomp. “Black Pyramid” is an acerbic, much more black metal inspired track with frantic drumming and icily hissing guitars, while “The Inverter” digs itself a deep, ominous groove, like quickly flowing lava with occasional explosions.
The guitar tone fall somewhere between death metal filth and black metal brimstone, gunking things up or icing them down as the songs dictate. The guitar work is intelligently chaotic, twisting painfully as though bound in rusting barbed wire. A few relatively clean moments, like the wailing, agonized solo on “The Inverter,” pierce the murk and provide a few rare moments of illumination.
Abyssous also make excellent use of their atmospheric tracks, not just to shift or enhance the mood of the record, but also to move it along narratively. “Entering The Cave” evokes and aura of ominous descent, of being pulled down into something dangerous. Interlude “Profaning Intrusion Of…” makes use of haunted and half-hear voices to craft a spookier, more disturbing soundscape, rising in a shreik that becomes the opening riffs of “The Inverter.” Closer “Abscondence” is infused with a sense of movement, of rising up and ultimately escaping, though a few last crushing slabs of guitar and eerie electronic cries follow the listener out into the light.
…Smouldering is definitely one of those demos that deserved expansion and a re-release. Remastered by by P. Engel at Temple of Disharmony, the tracks retain the right dose of rawness but with a more balanced, varied sound as well. The additional tracks fill out the sound as well and the scope of the record, and the intro and outro form appropriate bookends that gives …Smouldering the right sense of gravity and movement. While not daringly original in style, Abyssous have made a promising debut release.