Neil Gaiman once wrote in Sandman: Season of Mists that “hell is something you carry around with you, not somewhere you go” and with Cinereous Incarnate (I, Voidhanger et al), Abstracter aim to ensure that the feeling of your own personal hell is something that stays with you throughout the remainder of the year.
The problem with this is that an idea of hell is entirely subjective and while an intense array of vitriolic vocals backed up by an oppressive atmosphere may be one person’s idea of damnation, to others it may be where they feel most comfortable. So, to truly make the listening experience as hellish as possible, you have to be willing to drag your audience through a number of different tortuous avenues.
This is true of Abstracter’s entire creative output to date, as no two albums sounds identical, and Cinereous Incarnate is easily their most eclectic. The aptly named opener ‘Nether’ sets the scene with tension-building ambiance, but before it can settle into the miasma, the record’s true nature leaps out and pulls you kicking and screaming through almost ten minutes of outright hostility.
It’s a Frankenstein’s Monster of Death, Doom, Crust, and Black Metal that one moment becomes a yawning, cavernous abyss and then will transform into a maelstrom of blast beats and thick, fuzzy death metal riffs. ‘Ashen Reign’ is the record’s prime example of this back-and-forth between two separate hells, as the brief interludes of d-beat are akin to moments of respite for the listener between the other painfully sludgy passages.
The titular interludes that fall either side of this particular track gives a nod to the band’s previous life as a noise duo many years ago. While they aren’t exactly memorable, they maintain the flow of otherworldly horror between the longer tracks and echo the kind of dystopian gloom that made their first record, Tomb of Feathers (Sentient Ruin Laboratories), so engrossing.
Gaiman’s Sandman: Season of Mists contains a large focus on old myths and ideas, and the struggle between those who are, and who are not, willing to move on from those beliefs. Abstracter proves that they are not a single idea set in stone, and their willingness to adapt their styles is a testament both the artists themselves and I, Voidhanger for the willingness to back bands not content with the status quo.