Abythic – Dominion Of The Wicked
Enter Germany’s Abythic, a death metal outfit featuring members both past and present with a resume of bands as long as your severed arm that has been stitched onto another severed arm for purposes of ensuring this metaphor can adequately give the impression of extreme length. With musicians this busy and this seasoned it’s unsurprising that this juggernaut has pumped out several releases (read the review of “Conjuring The Obscure” here) in a relatively short space of time and here we have the latest in “Dominion Of The Wicked” and after listening to it I have to go back to a key word I used previously – length.
An instant curveball in a genre that’s not known for it’s curveballs is that the opening track ‘At The Threshold Of Obscurity’ is a whopping fifteen minutes long. It’s quite a risky move but one that pays off as this mid-paced death metal epic shows off the bands chops with aplomb. There is a subtle demonic atmosphere, Vader-esque growls and a lead guitar that at times takes the place of the vocals to provide the narrative. Despite the length of the track, it changes up enough that it constantly keeps you interested without looking like it’s trying. It’s a beautiful example of uncomplicated yet effective song writing.
As the album progresses a few cracks do begin to show. ‘The Call’ basically picks up where the first track left off and feels like a continuation, which feels a little anti-climactic after what feels like a brave opening. ‘Endless Tides’ ups the atmosphere and has echoes of early Katatonia about it at times and ‘Augury Of The Doomed’ brings everything to a fittingly grim close. There’s nothing at all ‘bad’ here, everything is performed well, the production is great, the atmosphere is on point… but the disparity in length between the opening track and those that follow make the album seem a little lopsided. Add to that the more consistent moderate pacing with tracks leading into one another and it can feel like one long song that keeps threatening to kick in and never quite does.
But when all is said and done, Abythic have done well here. They’ve taken a step outside the box but they haven’t strayed too far. This is a solid old school death metal album by a band that knows the genre inside and out, who know how to push the envelope just enough that it feels a bit different without trying too hard.
4 / 5 STARS