Unleashing The Outer Plagues
With a logo not unlike what one would see on a 16-bit video game title screen (and a band name one “a” short of alliteration), one can easily dismiss France’s Abyssal Ascendant as one beast in the larger legion of death metal bands that seek to replicate the old-school masterworks of the genre. This action would do this humble monster a disservice, because the band’s EP “Unleashing the Outer Plagues” is not unlike a young and ambitious netherworld entity with an eye (or eyes) on making a name for itself amongst its legion of brethren. With a full length due out in summer 2015, this six song debut is very promising as a statement of intent.
At the first sign of blasting violence, the listener knows this recording is going to be a punishing effort, one that sounds similar to mid-period Nile in its murky compression. Try not, I meant TRY NOT to break something as ‘Interdimensional Predation’ ratchets up along with an old-school death snarl from vocalist “Flo” (I imagined the progressive Insurance lady gone horribly cosmic Brundlefly) and try, TRY not to rip your own arm off and kill the nearest living poser with it during the chugging of ‘Webcrafting the End.’ It all makes for very physical and provoking listening. But the strongest aspect of this set of songs lies in their ability to set the mood with interludes and sound effects. Right off the bat, ‘Abysmal Cadavers Procession’ uses some squishy and slimy sound effects to simulate the otherworldly physicality of the entities described within. ‘The Beyond One’ begins with a really cool monologue delivered from the perspective of Yog-Sothoth, one of the those scary Lovecraftian deities that can state with confidence its ability to be “both the key and the door.” For one not well versed with the mythos, the interludes are nevertheless mysterious and enticing enough to invite further inspection and also enhances the already immersive material. The monologue ends up being the most memorable moment during the running time, but that doesn’t lessen the other highlights “Plagues” has to offer. Key cut ‘Down to the Abyss’ is a beautiful and mystical track that is strongly reminiscent of Nile’s best moments (down to the bells, choirs and chugging) and hints at a knack for multifaceted songcraft. There is much to find and enjoy even in the record’s short running time.
A lesson learned: what self-respecting metal fan can know little to nothing about the Great Old Ones and their reality warping abilities? This author resolves to make an effort to learn sooner rather than later, so he can properly enjoy the ritualistic atmosphere presented by these priests of Yog-Sothoth with much more fervour.