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Given that the progenitors of the genre took their name from a Boris Karloff film you could say that horror is the indelible theme in all of Metal, or at the very least in Doom. Plenty of bands flirt with the topic and the imagery, usually sticking within a few select classic like The Devil Rides Out, but few bands take horror right to the core of their being as much as Abysmal Grief do. Whereas most bands looking to inject some of the horror and suspense of Italian 60's/70's cinema would use something a bit more obvious from Dario Argento's filmography Abysmal Grief instead opt for a more obscure Gialli for the cover art of this album entitled La Dama Rossa Uccide Sette Volte (or, The Lady In Red Kills Seven Times- a great song title if I ever heard one!) Nothing when it comes to the atmospherics on this album is handled lightly- the depth of it is incredible.
One of the reasons for this is the range of the sources both musical and literary that Abysmal Grief draw upon, so while they may ostensibly be a part of the great Italian “Purple Doom” tradition, in particular Paul Chain and Black Hole, but the amount of that they are indebted to classic British Goth Rock is greater than ever before. Opening track “Lords Of The Funeral” has the vintage drum sound, sinister guitar tone and spooky organ keys of their Italian forebearers but also the warbly theatricality in the vocals of Carl McCoy from Fields Of The Nephilim.
From there “Hidden In The Graveyard” introduces a much heavier and rumbling bass tone while the vocals verge now more towards Bauhaus' Peter Murphy, and the synths imitate bowed string instruments. The cheapness of it actually suits Abysmal Grief's style more than a real orchestra would, and the decaying gothic feel shines through in any case. The fact that synthesisers are used for these parts mirrors the different kind of vibes the band evoke- everything from 18th century fiction like Edgar Allen Poe, Bram Stoker and Ann Radcliff, to the cheapest pulp paperback horror imaginable. Abysmal Grief manage to be equal parts sultry and classy, cheap and kitsch.
The bass tone has to be commended again on “The Gaze Of The Owl”, a sound that you can feel in the belly almost as much as those organ keys can be felt in the bones. The vocals also tend towards deep growling much more on this track also which provides a vibe not unlike early Cradle Of Filth. After that the album is on track for a masterful climax, but unfortunately “Her Scythe” doesn't quite deliver, and this album stops just short of topping 2009's Misfortune.
From WAR ON ALL FRONTS A.D. 2013 zine- www.facebook.com/waronallfronts