Saturday, March 3, 2012

an interview with Abyssal (UK)

Cover art for Denouement
Abyssal, hailing from UK, has unleashed the debut album Denouement which fits with the current form of black/death metal venturing more towards into technical side of things infused with sheer progression and dissonance. The overall atmosphere is dense and enriched in structure. Abyssal shows exactly how to execute and inject own mentation taking some of the ideas from the predecessors resulting in quite a unique product. The moment you turn on the album, it grabs you with unearthly force, hurling you into darkest breach. The songs are executed perfectly with thick production and the composition stands out on its own.

Behold the detuned and heavy gut crunching riffing along with discernible blackened and progressive passages with blasting chaos and versatile drumming which make the songs to take abrupt brute changes. The consistent guttural and sepulchral vocation with crushed out utters are exceptional throughout reminiscent of Demilich's Antii Boman. You can't help but take notice. This monster which spans over fifty minutes came out in early January and I had a good grasp of it in mid February. Since then Denouement did not fail to amaze me; it's a constant grower for sure. I got in touch with Abyssal and asked some questions regarding the band, album and it's future. Here is the extract.

Your debut album Denouement has created a lot of waves in the underground scene recently. Did you expect it?
Frankly, no. It is very encouraging that there is a bubbling appreciation for music which is quite unconventional and challenging.    

As far as quoting genre wise, Abyssal has been tagged with blackened death metal mostly. Did you want it this way or is it something you don't care and just write the music?
Abyssal never started out to play to a specifically death metal or black metal template. The sound is largely a culmination of influences from these genres, as well as doom, ambient, sludge and post-rock to some degree. Black/death metal is however a fairly apt category to put the music in for convenience.

There are lots of bands under the same name Abyssal from different parts of the world. It's possible that people can get confused easily. Is it something you initially thought of when making a name for the band or did you guys just happen to stick with it once the things were working out well?
Abyssal was actually a fairly uncommon name in meta music when the band was first coming together. There seems to have been an explosion of “Abyssals” quite recently, including another from the same region of the UK. It presents no real problem, as we hope the music is recognisable enough to be considered our own regardless of other artists.

People are comparing Abyssal with Antediluvian and sometimes Portal. Did you hear about these bands? I think Abyssal is much more cleaner sounding production wise. What are your thoughts?
Both Antediluvian and Portal are strong influences to us; however we hope that the sound on Denouement is sufficiently unique as to avoid being labelled a clone band. The production of the CD came together as fairly middle of the road I find: far less “lo-fi” than many atmospheric bands, but also far dirtier and imperfect than the often overproduced sound of more modern death metal. We were quite happy with this.

There's somewhat good market or interest for blackened/ progressive death or extreme acts in USA. Since Abyssal surfaced from UK, I want to take this opportunity by asking you about the extreme scene in UK. If we look deeper, bands like Bolt Thrower, Benediction, Akercocke or particularly young ones such as Cruciamentum, Spearhead and now Abyssal did manage to come up. How hard is it exactly to work through the scene in UK?
The UK extreme scene is fairly strong, but very one-dimensional. There is essentially a monopoly on death metal by brutal and technical bands that are all playing variations on the same theme, with a handful of “old school” bands bringing up the rear. Black metal is slightly more daring, but still fairly static. The only other bands which spring to mind who play music which is unique and refreshing are Acatalepsy from Scotland and Sarpanitum from the Midlands.  

How does the song writing process blend together? 
All of the material and lyrics for Denouement were written by Axiom before being modified and refined by the band. The writing process for the upcoming release may be slightly different.

There are a lot of atmospheric interventions in Denouement adding depth in constructing distinct layers. Are these taken samples or created and written by the band itself?
The vast majority of atmospheric passages are “written” or at least organised by the band. There are obvious exceptions, such as Christopher Hitchens’ polemic between the first and second tracks.

What were your inspirations when you wrote Denouement?
Denouement grew out of a need to write music which was dark and foreboding in the spirit of old death metal, but also emotive and powerful with unique atmosphere. We find these are things that are sorely lacking in a great deal of modern extreme metal.

The logo of Abyssal is fuzzy yet crypted in a wonderful way that we get to see in rawer black metal bands mostly. Also the cover art for Denouement is well thought and observative. Any interpretations on these?
The artwork was selected specially from the portfolio of a Lithuanian artist called Kristina Gentvainyte. She is an incredible visual artist and photographer and we find her work to fit very nicely with our music. She has also provided the artwork for the upcoming CD, and even preliminary work for the one after that.

Can you give us more insights on the lyrical themes and concepts?
Abyssal’s lyrics dwell solely in reality as this is really the only honest way which we feel we can write. We find that lyrics about Lovecraft, occult Satanism or standard anti-Christianity almost always fail to deliver any degree of power or meaning to music (obviously with some exceptions). By the same token, a lot of reality driven bands tend to fall into the same old clichés of anti-war, political commentary etc. We attempt to encapsulate the chaos, uncertainty and tragedy associated with being a human being, but in an honest and poetic way. The truest darkness is that which is real, not imaginary.

What kind of label are we going to see Abyssal signing with in future? Are you going to disclose any information regarding this matter?
There are no hard plans to sign to a label in the near future. We have not yet begun to contact any labels with our release, however there is a preliminary “wish-list” for the ones which would be good to work with.

Are there any plans for overseas touring? 
There are no current plans, but here's to the future.
Thanks to Abyssal for the time.

Abyssal bandcamp page
Abyssal bigcartel page

[ Abyssal is currently working on a new album entitled Novis Enim Dominus Qui Sunt Eius which will come out next year ]

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