Abyssous are back! These Morbid Angel / Asphyx worshiping Germans came first to our awareness with a damn impressive debut album ‘Smouldering‘, released through Iron Bonehead in 2013. If you did not check that one back in the day, you should. Right now. Appearing around the same time as Degial from Sweden, these two bands seemed to be bringing the ‘Altars of Madness‘ -era Death Metal back in full force, especially after certain ‘Illud Divinum Insanus‘ album which certainly did not do that… Despite the obvious signs of considerable talent in the art of Death Metal, Abyssous went soon AWOL. Back in the depths, so to speak. Years passed and fans were left wondering what had happened.
Now the obsidian gorges have been re-opened and Abyssous crawl back with a quite extensive EP called ‘Mesa‘. Funnily enough, “Mesa” sports more minutes than ‘Smouldering‘ did and calling it as an EP is a bit a matter of taste, I suppose. Maybe the label (Iron Bonehead again) wanted to underline the structure of ‘Mesa‘ a bit further, by calling it so. It seems that Abyssous have taken the direction of the Spanish masters Graveyard in their music and precede each aural Death Metal assault with a looming, menacing intro-piece. Out of the ten numbers in the recording, five are instrumental and if you want to see it this way – ‘Mesa‘ features only roughly 20 minutes of murky Death Metal. The rest is ambiance.
But at the end of the day it really does not matter what format one likes to call ‘Mesa‘ with, does it? It’s the music that matters! Abyssous in 2018 are definitely darker, more esoteric, gloomier and way more serious than they were during their debut. The soundscape is black as a chasm and heavier than a rain of asteroids. The presence of early Morbid Angel can still be easily detected, but Abyssous seem to include some of the epic qualities of early Nile in the mix as well. Heavily bent guitar patterns wail, moan and hover, whereas almost Archgoat-like drumming only underline the grimness and somewhat stiff approach of it. At their heaviest Abyssous sound like a massive iceberg sailing through night sea, groaning as it goes. Certain Lovecraftian vibes are more than easy to detect. ‘Mesa‘ gets more and more menacing towards the end (like all self-respecting descents into abyss should) while the band pours onto us the tar of the longer, slower and heavier material – namely “Aerosoils” (great title, by the way!) and “Congealed Lores“. Especially the later of them showcases an enormous potential in it’s spacey, whale size-riffery, not too far from Morbid Angel‘s album G.
Eventually, ‘Mesa‘ leaves a somewhat divided aftertaste. First and foremost, it is great to have Abyssous back. That’s for sure. The world needs such heaviness, especially when the band seems to be heading towards more original and impressive directions. This is no longer sheer Trey Azagthoth worship, but a menacing new form of delivery of their own. The instrumentals add dynamics to pace, but somehow the later part of the 30 minutes is so much more focused in it’s darkness that the faster numbers (“Mesa” and “Impelled“) are a bit lost under the sheer weight of the remaining tunes. Besides, the atonal, irrational and melody-free leads work better in slower and more atmospheric setting. Perhaps ‘Mesa‘ is an EP after all. A brief letter from the ravines letting the family and friends know that the people in the depths are still alive, but yet busy with their research and that they will write back in further detail later on. Somehow this all adds more Lovecraftian unease to it all. So all we can do right now is to sit and wait. Maybe the life and events in the abyss will be further explained to us at a later time, in a more thorough manner. Until then, this is a welcome sign of life. Or death.
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