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The Chasm is a band that I've continuously failed to understand....or rather, failed to understand why they receive even half of the praise that's endlessly showered upon them. What is it about this band that metalheads find so damn interesting and so damn fascinating? Is it the long "epic" compositions? I suppose this is a significant factor, yes. Is it the lyrics (or themes)? Perhaps, but some of the songs are lacking such an important dimension to them, especially on the release here in question; Farseeing the Paranormal Abysm. This factor is probably a much more important issue than many people would ever realize. Nearly half of Farseeing the Paranormal Abysm ('Farseeing' from now on) is instrumental....yes, instrumental. In death metal, instrumental albums are practically unheard of (yeah, I'm sure they exist, whatever), and there is a really good god damn reason for this, too, that I will explain shortly. The Chasm's style can be described as an epic/progressive interpretation on dark death metal like Incantation, I suppose, and to me that's kind of akin to taking perfection and fucking it all up on purpose. And sure enough, I hate it. Incantation-styled death metal needs nothing of the progressive or the epic, and evidence of this can be seen on the new record by--you guessed it!--Incantation. So to summarize, there are a few major issues I have with The Chasm in general that virtually render them systematically unenjoyable for me. Not only is Farseeing no different, it is perhaps the most guilty offender as regards to these issues in their entire discography. The first major issue--their long meandering songwriting that goes absolutely nowhere, as I mentioned above--is probably the factor that most kills The Chasm from my perspective. The second is their lack of lyrics, and resultant lack of vocals, in some songs (Farseeing being particularly guilty of this offense). Another major problem with The Chasm is that their riffs just aren't very good or very interesting (or very brutal) to me -- they feel disjointed and somewhat randomly pieced together. The last major problem is that all of this takes place on an album with a running time of over one hour.... ugh.... far too long and far too bloated.
Unfortunately, The Chasm insist on writing longer drawn out songs and on Farseeing this aspect to their songwriting is most apparent. There are no songs under 6 minutes, aside from one interlude, and there are two that clock in at over 11 minutes (one of these being an instrumental). These two songs feel the most aimless and directionless, although the entire album feels this way. "Vault to the Voyage" suffers from every single major issue mentioned in my opening paragraph. Lack of lyrics, vocals, direction and the riffs are anything but interesting or brutal. The riffs actually feel rather floaty and feathery, as if they are being taken off into random directions by an erratic wind, lacking the bloodthirsty pummeling driving ferocity that a band like Incantation never fails to deliver. They also fail to build any kind of suspense, or actual noticeable, meaningful progression, but just meander on for the 11+ minute running time and I find myself losing interest rather quickly, scarcely able to pay attention even after a few minutes have gone by. The riffs don't feel like they belong together very well either, like in "Vault to the Voyage," they just switch back and forth from riff to riff rather suddenly and randomly, and the transitions don't flow or make much sense, which in turn also kills any potential for proper suspense, progression or build-up. The riffs in Farseeing feel thrashy and melodic in nature most of the time, with many leads, and this plays a major part in undermining the darkness (and brutality?) that The Chasm is assumedly trying to construct.
Now as for the lack of lyrics, some might say; what the hell is the big deal about this? They'll probably also say, "I bet you don't even read half the lyrics of the bands you listen to anyway!" -- and they aren't completely wrong here. Although, I do read a lot of the lyrics, even for death metal bands, especially for death metal bands where I am thoroughly interested in the subject matter (see: Macabre), or are known to write powerful, meaningful lyrics (see: Immolation). Good lyrics are like the nice warm bread you receive (with butter, of course) after only a few minutes of waiting at a fancy restaurant -- necessary? Of course not, but such a lovely little delight, if you so choose to partake, which I often do (and want to). I can see my critics (I don't really have any) now saying; "A-hah! But what about those bands that just write silly goofy lyrics, for either entertainment, or to be as gory and ridiculous as possible?" Well, if you are into those bands, I think you ought to be aware that the lyrics aren't going to be of Shakespearean quality and I can accept that to a degree. Although, if they get too damn silly or dumb it tends to kill my enjoyment of those bands as well. However, there is a larger issue as a result of The Chasm not writing lyrics for some songs on Farseeing; lack of vocals. A lot of the power emanating from death metal spews forth from the vocals adding another dimension of rhythmic brutality that is already severely lacking in Farseeing due to the nature of the riffs (and possibly due to the production, which is exceedingly clean and clear). Mortician is a great example where vocals make a massive difference by adding extra brutal bass-y rhythms and a touch of atmosphere. I mean, can you imagine an 11 minute Mortician instrumental (or song)? Perhaps you don't want to, and I don't either. Obviously Mortician is a far cry from The Chasm stylistically, but I think you get my point. A lack of vocals on long drawn-out songs that are already deficient in the brutality department only serve to make things far worse, and an even greater test of my patience. Even when there are vocals, I don't find them particularly impactful or powerful, especially since they seem to be mixed lower with a thin echoey sound to them.
I've gone into the riffing already in the context of songwriting, but perhaps I'll take a look at them from a slightly different perspective, briefly. Well, it's rather simple.... they just aren't very good. The riffs are thrashy, yet boring with unmemorable melodies, a lot of airy feathery leads that I find annoying and distracting, and just a general lack of heaviness everywhere. I feel no weight hardly at all from any of them, maybe this is an issue with the guitar tone or the production. I can certainly say that the production doesn't serve to generate heaviness or brutality (which is, again, made doubly worse with the tracks that lack vocals), due to how crystal clear and polished everything sounds -- while also lacking a strong prominent low-end. I suppose I could go on to cite examples of specific riffs, but I don't really see the point, because it's generally a problem with the entire album from start to finish. The trick would be finding a riff that doesn't have any of the issues I've stated above. Just throw on any song and you'll see what I mean pretty much right from the start.
And to top off all of the issues I've mentioned above, Farseeing just goes on and on for far too damn long. The album is one hour and two minutes in length, and it becomes an epic test of endurance for me to reach the end in a single sitting. To get through it, I often end up barely paying any attention to what's going on, since the album bores me far more than silence. Scarily, this isn't their longest album, although it suffers from the least amount of lyrics (and vocals) and the longest songs, which makes it worse.
I will grant that The Chasm have their style, more or less, well refined and their vision clearly constructed -- but it's simply not for me. I will also grant that they're skilled musicians and their performances are solid. However, there are far too many glaring issues with their style and songwriting for me to get any enjoyment at all out of the band. It's rare for me to (dare I say) hate a death metal band as much as I do The Chasm, but they manage to do just about everything wrong from my perspective. So, if you love your death metal armed with heavy doses of brutality, darkness and morbidity like I do, then I wouldn't recommend Farseeing, because it's severely lacking in all those crucial categories.