Three years in the making, En(D)Grave the debut album from French instrumental metallers Abysse openly reveals all the passion, fire, and determination which went into its creation. The seven track release is an extensive exploration of bold adventurous lands and emotions; ventures fraught with warriors and bravery, shadows and danger but all brought forth with a potent sinew driven narrative that leaves no emotive intensive stone unturned and inventive imagination untapped.
Formed in 2004, the quartet from Cholet, Maine-et-Loire of bassist Jérémy Cas, drummer Sebastien Pineau, and guitarists Vincent Barbaud and Geoffrey Veron, unveiled their first demo Eight Hours Before Dawn two years later. Followed by the De Profondeur en Immersion EP of 2007 the band was already igniting thoughts and passions towards their experimental progressive metal composing and its accomplished realisation but it was the Le Vide est Forme EP the following year which really put a match under acclaim for their inventive offerings, a fuse which has been replaced by an explosive trigger with En(d)Grave. The previous release was also the key to seeing Abysse touring France and further afield, the band sharing stages with the likes of Kruger, Rosetta, Hacride, Impure Wihelmina, and Klone whilst also lighting up stages at festivals such as Hellfest and Motocultor. The new album has all the strength and invention to send the band into further passions and lands as the band brings world metal a real taste of French ingenuity.
From a sonic brewing ambience Eagle Of Haast makes a gentle Eastern breath toned entrance to start off the album, strong punchy rhythms making a welcoming frame to the already inviting melodic allure. With muscles flexing and the initial sonic mist turning into an evocative storm the track leads the imagination on an adventurous and darkened flight through intimidating shadows with barbarous atmospheres and incendiary colour rich melodic flames. It is a track which offers thoughts of bravery and savagery simultaneously but as a union rather than a battle or of destructive intent. Certainly with the rhythmic craft and intensity there is no doubting the menace and rapaciousness of the narrative yet with superb imagination and sculpted evocation of the guitars it is a journey of rewards and passion rather than unbridled danger.
The following Ten Thousand Changes discovers a voracious passion and energy to its charge through the ear but again it is a landscape of emotive persuasion which ebbs and flows in the energy and force of its attack whilst burning up thoughts and vision with its poetically charged sonic painting. The song suggests intensive climactic occurrences in large crescendos whilst allowing breathers and recovery through mellow yet no less intense melodic coaxing. It is a stirring track which though not as instance for the emotions as the first emerges just as impressive and pleasing for the rampant appetite already inspired by the release.
Mastodon as you would expect from its title is not lacking muscles and weight or an intensity to smother and consume the ear and beyond. It is a ravenous treat, the bass as vociferously throaty and snarling as anywhere on the album whilst riffs drill and grind away at the senses as sonic flames light up the oppressive and addictively contagious body of the track. At times there is a Metallica groove teasing and peering through the heady atmosphere whilst other moments you are reminded of the song’s namesakes but from start to finish the confrontation is an immense and formidably commanding joy.
Through Forest Monument and Sharp & Chrome, Abysse continue to impress and ignite the passions, the first of the pair a classic metal seeded fire with spirals of melodic and sonic craft searing its walls. It takes its time in investigating and painting the surrounding textures and hidden corners of the landscape parading their beauty and perils with again rhythmic incitement and deliciously descriptive guitar ferocity in league with melodic cunning and craft. Its successor is just as strong a persuasive image instigator, the white hot flames of the guitar’s imagination and skill a prickly rapture breeding provocateur skirted by the ever imposing and lead taking rhythmic hunger and predation of bass and drums. A tempestuous piece the track is a furnace of passionate intensity, and just as magnetic, fierce, and beautiful.
The Blue Wave Recordings released album is completed by the air sucking Golden Life, a track which smoulders and seduces, scalds and combusts into irrepressible beauty and broiling expansive heights, and the corrosively candescent Light For Wheke. The closer alone provides an exhausting wholly rewarding traverse of climactic and illustrious climes and within the might that is En(D)Grave, provides the final glorious invigorating flight through a union of darkness and light, a union constantly on the edge. Abysse has provided without doubt one of the most scintillating and emotionally rewarding not just instrumental but metal album of the year.
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