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If there is a dark landscape within nature, rest assured that a black metal band will find inspiration from it. Perhaps no part of the planet is as dark as deep sea. The French black metal act Ankrismah channels the cavernous depths of the ocean on their debut LP Dive in the Abyss. This raw and minimal recording creates a primal atmosphere that is full of unsettling and alien sounds.
Dive in the Abyss is cut from the cloth of Transylvanian Hunger; sharp percussion, raw tremolo, very little bass and a pitch black atmosphere. The most important aspect of the recording is the vocals, which are extremely bestial and hateful. They vary from a drier reptilian growl to wet, gurgling moans. Often the vocalist abandons all language and opts for a series of violent impromptu growls that sound as if they were being emitted by some trapped predator relentlessly trying to break out its cage to tear apart its prey.
The percussion is really varied. While there usually is a steady blast beat, the high end of the percussion is all over the place, producing a wide range of abrasive sounds. For the most part, the guitars provide vicious, hypnotic tremolo that mostly aim to accentuate the atmosphere. On some occasions the riffs provide some serious force. On “Profanation du Vice” the riff sways back and forth with vicious intent like an eel slithering on the ocean floor in pursuit of a victim. On other occasions the riffs just provide an eerie backdrop for the maddening vocals. Sometimes this doesn’t matter. A track like “Kill Yourself” is so full of hatred and violence that no hook is needed. However, some of the other tracks feel a little too nebulous without a stronger riff.
Two songs that do really stand out are the opener and closer. These songs integrate sludge elements into the blackened landscape. The tempos are slower, the riffs are muddier and the songs are longer. The buzzing feedback of the weighted riffs perfectly manifests the deep sea aesthetic Ankrismah are aiming for.
Overall, Dive in the Abyss is a solid debut from Ankrismah. The atmosphere is intense, the vocals wonderfully disgusting and the percussion is engaging. A little more consistency in the riffs and we might be talking about but yet another top tier French black metal band. In the meantime, this slimy piece of oceanic filth isn’t a bad holdover.
(Originally written for deafsparrow.com)