A dark metal band took a little too much Ayahuasca
Abstruse is an experimental metal avant-garde band from Greece. They describe themselves as a band who want to offer something unique that other bands do not offer. In doing so, their new album ‘Submerge: Ritual’ contains some of the most abstract and unusual metal I have heard. Did I get it? To be honest – no.
Abstruse’s album takes the form of a Pan Ritual. As different phases of the sacrifices occur, the album wildly swings from one edge of unhinged to the other. Things start out relatively calm with ‘Submerge’. It cleverly plays with water noises and effects that push you down into a cavern. From there the metal and avant-garde influences burst out. ‘Ritual (of Identity)’ sounds like a carnival act trapped in a caravan speeding down a hill at 60mph. The vocals are urgent and theatrical but not in a way that I could get behind. They seemed at odds at times with the metal effects jarring with the folk side. ‘Of Annihilation’ takes the circus element even further as the song whirls into a frenzied rage. The folksy stuff falls by the wayside as guitars smash in and the once out of place vocals feel at home as you spiral out of control.
From there ‘Intradimensional’ feels more like an angry Unto Ashes piece and its all the better for it. The dramatic drums and synths make the first half of the track feel distinct and flowing and then Abstruse swarms you with raging metal again. Here it really works though as it feels like a surprising but natural transition. Abstruse also show off their tech-noir side with the synth-heavy ‘Of Lust’ which features no noises you can play with anyone else around for fear of judgement. I wonder if the moaning lady knows she has been chopped up and fed up as an offering to the gods?
From there I personally began to struggle. ‘Of The Ever Return’ sounds like some drunken pirates made a sea shanty with some metal ghosts. It wears its gothic badge proudly with church organ stabs and some psychedelic moments. ‘Shamanic’ takes metal and light flamenco and just smashes them together. The problem is the lack of integration for me so the two sides jar. Faring far better is the sitar led ‘ParaBraham’. Here the vocals are a distant chant and the tablas led the way. When the metal side does come in it is far more respectful and integrated with the rest of the instrumentation. The album then closes with a tour of the entire album on ‘Ceremony Celestial’.
Abstruse certainly created something unique with ‘Submerge: Ritual’. My personal problem with it lays in the fact that it often smashes different genres together without careful integration. When the metal comes, and believe me it does, it arrives as a sea of noise that then clashes with the vocals and everything that was carefully built up around it. I can see some black metal fans really enjoying this and possibly those in the aggressive avant-garde space too. Abstruse has an interesting concept that I think has real potential but it just didn’t feel like an out of body experience for me.
Recommended track: Intradimensional
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