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Abysmal Grief - Strange Rites Of Evil

Abysmal Grief
Strange Rites of Evil
by Danny Sanderson at 12 April 2016, 1:32 AM

Genoa, and in fact much of Northern Italy, is an area that has a deep, antiquated history linked with barbarism and aggression. In the cities early years it was subject to sacking and rule by the Ostrogoths and Lombards, and it was racked, like much of Europe, by the Black Death in the mid fourteenth century. Although these tragic and dark times are long gone, the barbaric elements of those early days are returning, not in day to day life, but in music; just like any city in any given European country, the eerie sounds and vicious tones of Black, Death and Doom Metal are prevalent within the underground scene. And if the Genoese Metal underground is a tribe, then it's safe to say that ABYSMAL GRIEF is its gnarled warlord chieftain. In the two decades since the bands formation, this ferocious four piece have been producing a very epic, grandiose form of Doom Metal with a lot of great Gothic flourishes, a powerful, heady mix that it's hard not to appreciate. Their latest, fourth full length record, "Strange Rites of Evil", is a surge of heavy, primal music that epitomises this band at their absolute best.

"Nomen Omen", opening to church organs and choirs, is a thick, overly Gothic affair. The guitars and keyboard sections intertwine to create some catchy, melody-laden hooks, and the deep, foreboding vocal lines set a dark and eerie tone for the whole of this track. It sounds very much like a Hammer Horror movie committed to music, with a chilling, creepy atmosphere and a few grim touches which makes it all the more compelling. It's essentially a really strong Doom Metal track with a classic feel and some nice Gothic flourishes, making it a really strong song on which to open this record, which is already shaping up to be amazing. The second, titular track, really ups the ante in the atmospherics department right from the songs opening notes. It's another powerful piece of epic, quirky sounding Gothic Doom, with some excellent, necrotised vocal passages, pounding bass and drum tracks, and sludgy, rhythmic guitar hooks that suck the listener in very quickly. The song, as a whole, is mesmerising to listen to. "Cemetery" is a song that again blends thick, tar-like guitar lines and dense bass with more grandiose, Gothic sensibilities. It features a really impassioned vocal performance that really embodies the dark and eerie qualities of the music, ranging from a bellowing warble to hideous, rasping harsh vocals. It's a really solid track with plenty of tight musicianship, and it has a palpable, ethereal sound to it throughout.

"Child of Darkness" is a statement of intent, flecked with venom and rage, which helps start the second half of this record on a high note. The guitar lines are confident, sludgy and have a rawness to them that, when coupled with the hideous vocals, creates the vocal point for a great track that draws the listener right into it. The keyboards provide a grandiose backdrop to the passion displayed through the rest of the song, making this one of the albums best and most enduring additions. "Radix Malorum" raises the already lofty bar even further, treating the listener to powerful keyboard trills and melodious, infectious leads that it is impossible not to get enamoured with. It's got plenty of tiny features, such as the use of a church bell, that gives this song a really engrossing, eerie charm that serves to cement this track in the audiences mind long after its final notes have died down. It's a fitting climax to an already monolithic album. The final song on here, "Dressed In Black Cloaks", has a really slow build up, which makes great use of cleaner tones and Harpsichord-esque keyboard pieces, before giving way to a much thicker, darker piece of music. The track moves along at a laboured, funereal pace, and is imbued with some morose Gothic flourishes that really bring this track to life. It has some of the most inspired musicianship on display here, and by the time the music gradually begins to fade into nothingness, the listener is left wanting more.

This is an absolute gem, especially if you love Classic Doom in the vein of CANDLEMASS. It has all the hallmarks of a landmark record, from its crushing, dense guitar wizardry to the gloomy atmosphere provided by the keyboards. They blend epic, Gothic elements with much beefier, more intense Death/Doom, and this results in a very eclectic, memorable sound. It's visceral and brilliant, and I'd urge everyone reading this to sample not only "Strange Rites of Evil", but also the entire back catalogue of these Genoese Giants.

4 Star Rating

1. Nomen Omen
2. Strange Rites of Evil
3. Cemetery
4. Child of Darkness
5. Radix Malorum
6. Dressed in Black Cloaks
Lord Alastair- Bass
Lord of Fog- Drums
Regen Graves- Guitars
Labes C. Necrothytus- Keyboards
Record Label: Horror Records


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Edited 20 October 2021

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