Abyssic – High The Memory

Funeral Doom Metal has always been a curiosity. To the average music fan, listening to music inspired by the tragedy and sorrow of a funeral isn’t exactly high on their list. However, like everything, it has its place and when it’s done well; it can paint powerful musical imagery which can invoke powerful emotions. With a name like Abyssic, gothic, dark and ancient images come to mind. However, as shown throughout High The Memory (Osmose Productions), darkness and light have their place in the context of such an emotive genre. After all, the spectrum of human emotion is not measured in absolutes.

High The Memory is an epic in every sense of the word. Being over an hour long and with two of the five songs being twenty minutes long, the episodic length of the tracks allows for dramatic and striking images to be conjured up from the dark mire of textures stretched across this record. The musical scope of the record is pure sonic grandeur: orchestras, choirs, and synths overlay the traditional elements allowing for a powerful contrast in atmosphere and consistency which makes High The Memory sonically and musically dense and rich.

‘Adornation’ leads us further down the path with cathedral choirs slowly welcoming us into this dark underworld which we are set to encounter. Orchestras grow slowly out of the darkness before the full weight of distortion comes crashing down. Like demons clamoring for our ears, the inhuman growls permeate out of the sonic onslaught. The incredibly subtle background synths add an unusually unnerving sound because it colorfully contrasts with all the bluster and distortion.

The title track, while continuing the demonic bombast as before, diminishes in the brutality and a light appears in the darkness: angelic choirs take over from their sorrowful counterparts and the crushing distortion is replaced by subtle ethereal chords accompanied by a melancholic piano. Though for a brief moment, there is beauty to counteract the Death and Doom.

This pendulum shifts steadily throughout the record in a calculated and concise way. It doesn’t swing violently, the shift in tone is gradual and effective – creating the perfect blend of all-encompassing darkness and sorrowful light. The perfect example of this is ’Transition Consent’: the contesting elements combine together with vicious growls being followed by a mournful orchestra.

The intensity and contrast drastically increases with ‘Where My Pain Lies’ and ‘Dreams Become Flesh’: the latter ramps up the dark ferocity with haunting pianos becoming more and more unsettling with choirs singing in our apocalyptic end, but not without offer a reprieve towards the end with spiraling pianos and orchestras offering more brief fleeting glimmers of hope.  The former seems to hail the end of our journey with pure Black Metal elements blast beats and tremolo picking – like we are increasing speed back to the surface world, escaping this dark underworld.

Much like the foreboding of ‘Adoration’, the album ends with an uncertainty that we ever truly escaped the shadows. Contrasting the distortion of the darkness, an orchestra and harpsichord play us out but the melodies they sing are not hopeful – perhaps we’ll need to revisit that dark underworld once again.

7 / 10

CALUM FARQUHAR