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An Abstract Illusion – Woe Award winner

An Abstract Illusion
by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 12 July 2022, 5:54 AM

Six years after a highly praised full-length debut album, AN ABSTRACT ILLUSION return with their second album, “Woe.” A giant and intricate slab of Atmospheric Death Metal inspired by Black Metal, Progressive Rock and Electronica, “Woe” offers up some of AN ABSTRACT ILLUSION's most accomplished melodies and riffs to date. A 60-minute song divided into seven pieces, combining beauty and brutality in a unique way, the album's musical depth is a feat to behold, one that will remain lodged in the psyche long after the final note is heard. Let the waves wash over you, the behemoth has awoken. The album contains seven tracks.

“The Behemoth That Lies Asleep” is the first cut. It’s short, compared to the other songs, clocking in at three-and-a-half minutes. The mood for the album is being set. Gentle, atmospheric tones give way to a blasting heaviness with depth and passion. The vocals are harmonized with electronica and beauty. Harsh vocals segue at the end into “Slaves,” which begins with faster than lightning guitar riffs and drums. The vocals could wake the dead. There are definitely Progressive elements here as well; this is no average Black Metal band. The bass work in this song is fantastic, as are the background ambient sounds. Every space is filled…some with anger and some with beauty. The band shifts in and out of different speeds with the deftness of a big cat going in for a kill. But it just keeps getting better, with a very skillful guitar solo over bed of staccato rhythms.

Abruptly, it segues into “Tear Down This Holy Mountain,” which offers some relief from the attack of the previous song. Down it descends, for a few moments, before it picks back up again with an intense fervor that is hard to describe. Picture you are locked in a small cell with hundreds of holes big enough for fists to fit in, and suddenly they start wailing on you all at once. The reprieve is just enough to let you catch your breath. Take your time and soak it all in, as these guys are masters at the cool surfing of several styles of Metal. The heavy emotional qualities of their music are just as ardent as the punishing tones from the harsher side of the table. It segues into “Prosperity,” which begins with clean vocals and some, dare I say fun, Progressive melodies. The bottom end is still quite weighted, but these melodies are bright and cut through a stagnant sky of grey with a beam of pure white light.

“Bloomsterkrans” begins with much softer tones. Strings combine with piano notes to open up this portal in the abyss that shimmers with colors you have never witnessed before. Woeful tones make your heart ache but also give you a glimmer of hope. “In the Heavens Above, You Will Become a Monster” is a 14-minute opus that lays to waste any delicate melodies out of the gate. Harsh vocals roar in like a lion, followed by eerie keys. It goes for the throat, with the precision of a surgeon. Following the mid-way point, the sound drops a bit to charming atmospheric tones with a big dose of melody. The weight is still very much there, but it is tempered with moments of breathtaking beauty. Female vocals take over from there, lamenting on the monstrous task of the subject matter. The harsh vocals at the end are as gutting as anything that I have heard this year.

“This Torment Has No End, Only New Beginnings” closes the album, and it’s a reminder of your inability to leave your past behind you. It opens with alluring keyboard tones and clean guitars, but in comes the engaging, aggressive sound shortly thereafter. Melodies still hang high in the sky, unwilling to give in. It backs off to clean vocals and ethereal melodies with bluesy lead guitar and keyboard notes that suddenly make you feel that what comes around, goes around, and in the end, there is no escape from all the things that you have done, save for a new moments of tranquility you get from this song. Coming towards the end, they leave no doubt, with a vehement and passionate plea.

This is probably a singular album that I have heard this year in terms of having it all, wrapped up in a tight offering that is as calculated as it is freeing at the same time. Talk about musicianship…this trio has more in their pinky then most musicians do in their entire hands. Complex arrangements are met with equally gorgeous melodies that flow through you. The songs bring up as many surprises along the way as they do staunch and tenacious compositions that you would expect from the genre of Metal. It is precisely the band’s ability to seek balance between these two things as well as they do. The hype matched the effort here fully.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

1. The Behemoth That Lies Asleep
2. Slaves
3. Tear Down This Holy Mountain
4. Prosperity
5. Blomsterkrans
6. In the Heavens Above, You Will Become a Monster
7. This Torment Has No End, Only New Beginnings
Karl Westerlund – Bass, Guitars
Robert Stenvall – Vocals, Keyboards
Christian Berglönn – Drums, Vocals
Record Label: Willowtip Productions


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