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I'm very glad I discovered Abysmal Grief, because their sound is totally unique from the wave of upcoming doom metal bands that one encounters here and there. As one can very easily see, doom is reaching its biggest popularity these days (if you can speak of popularity and doom at the same place). With the rising tide of the genre there also comes hundreds of bands that A) try to play heavier and heavier B) slower and slower C) heavier and slower than anyone else. Oh wait, I forgot about those that try to be interesting by hiring pretty girls with tender voices as vocalists (this is very trendy now, you know, especially if you wear 70's style clothes as well). And what are the consequences from the things I mentioned? Many of these doom/occult rock/stoner bands sound very similar to one another. I said all these things just to inform you that Abysmal Grief do none of the mentioned 'tricks'.
When I first heard about the band, judging by the name I decided that they were either a death/doom or a funeral doom band. I was not very far from the truth, but I was not close either. However, while funeral and death doom are very heavy genres, the doom present here is a lot lighter. And here comes the biggest surprise - in spite of the overall lightness, this full-length does sound extremely miserable. It actually sounds like a slow funeral procession. What is most important for a doom record - the gloomy atmosphere, is the first thing that captures the mind when one plays it. The atmosphere in all of the songs on it is as like the one of a distant, lonely and ancient castle in a misty range. It is one of solitude and desolation. What helps for the base of the dismal feeling is the use of the keyboards that sound like an organ. And who wouldn't agree that this fantastic renaissance instrument doesn't make music grim? I was very lovely surprised by its use, because you don't very often hear metal bands that do it. Not only is the keyboard player fantastic, but he really adds up for most of the feelings of the album. Another big highlight are the guitar solos - they are long, slow and have that 'take me higher' awesomeness that is so characteristic for doom records. Maybe a bit of a letdown for me is the fact that the vocals tend to be too theatrical at times, however, if you enjoy Candlemass/Solitide Aeternus type of vocals, that will be no problem for you.
I don't want to dissect every song piece by piece, because this can be quite boring for the reader so I'd keep to the basics. One more thing that should be said for this album is that there is also a gothic element to the sound. If you usually prefer pure doom with no such additions - don't worry, this is the first time I ever like such 'light' doom and maybe because regardless of not trying to be heavy, these guys managed to produce a real piece of misery and beauty. I attribute the medieval and authentic sound of the music to the fact that the musicians come from the historically rich home of Renaissance Italy - for indeed this music sounds like recorded in a cathedral. I advice you to check Abysmal Grief's 2007 album if you love the music sound and themes I described.