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Textbook Funeral Doom - 70%

dystopia4, May 13th, 2013

This is pretty much as by the book as you can get for funeral doom. While the second album would show a much greater penchant for experimentation, this harnesses the tropes of the genre and executes them in a highly proficient manner. Does this lead to a great release? Nah, not really. The problem is, while this is a good example of what the genre represents as a whole, it really comes off as a middle of the road type affair. Sure, the productions quite good, better than your average funeral doom, but this is still just that - average. It's a decent release for sure, but it just doesn't have much distinguishing it from the next record of it's ilk.

This is exactly what you'd think of when it's style is mentioned - lots of ethereal keyboards, deep growls, snail-paced riffs, eerie crawling leads and plodding drum work with much emphasis on the cymbals. The rhythm guitar is largely just there, with the high-in-the-mix keyboards often garnering more attention. Occasionally a subtle tremolo riff will come into play. The more mid paced chugs are much better than your average riff here - they jump out of the background, creating a feeling of menace not present when the chugging is absent. The leads are about the same as you'd expect from the next competent funeral doom band. (And let's be honest, competency is not such a lofty goal in this style). The drums, possessing a nice clear tone, trudge along, lots of cymbals complimenting bass drum to snare patterns. They do what they're supposed to do - no more, no less. If not a tad generic, the keyboards are pretty nice. They add atmosphere, like you'd expect, although a more or less played-out one. I would call them otherworldly if I was a newcomer to the genre, but I've heard the same sort of thing so many times that it isn't the tiniest bit foreign or enchanting.

Periodically a more interesting passage will jut out from the gloom. The band successfully integrates the occasional piano passage. This is first apparent in "To Kiss The Emptiness...", where it manages to be simultaneously creepy and beautiful. However, the only true standout moment of this release rears it's head at the end of "Apostasy". While the standard ethereal synth still loiters in the background, there are two things that make this part the absolute highlight of the album. At this point the metal has dropped out completely. Some keys start replicating droning brass instruments - this absolutely foreshadows the adventurous nature of the subsequent release. The brass samples are what initially drew me to Tragedy And Weeds. Choppy classical-inspired piano is shortly added to the mix. This truly is the only part of the release that points to something more. Because of it's ending, "Apostasy" should have been the last track on the album. The end to "Liquid Dimension Change" is pretty damn anticlimactic. And, honestly, these tracks could be re-arranged any which way and the album would still sound the same.

Perhaps I'm being needlessly harsh with this album - it takes a pre-concieved sound and manifests it in an undeniably competent manner. However, it's hard to listen to this and not think of how tame, restrained and ultimately pedestrian it is compared to the record which would follow. Tragedy And Weeds is an album worth mentioning alongside the greats of funeral doom. These beginnings are no doubt humble, yet there really is nothing to actively hate or even vaguely dislike here. If you are looking for a good all around representation of what the better produced side of funeral doom has to offer, well, here you have it. If you are looking for some of the best funeral doom has to offer, skip this first attempt and go directly to the sophomore.

Excellent funeral doom - 85%

lord_ghengis, September 17th, 2010

Abstract Spirit are pretty close to being the best new band in the funeral doom right now, sure they don't have the legacy of some of the older bands, but so far their two releases are both of superb quality. This debut album is pretty much a traditional affair, it features heavier keyboard work and less emphasis on guitars than the superior follow up, but everything from sound, pacing to atmosphere is ideal.

On Liquid Dimensions Change the band play a style of very slow doom based mainly around big slow riffs, and most of the variation and excitement is delivered through the use of orchestral keyboard work, however unlike most of these newer bands they don't lack momentum. Abstract Spirit don’t create a droney washed out crawl, they have a slow marching funeral procession and it's simply fantastic. The band never feel stationary in their music, there is always a feeling of movement and direction to what they do, and it makes the band feel like something special compared to most modern funeral doom bands.

The album is quite a bit more orchestral than Tragedy and Weeds, with the guitars sticking to big droning chords and the keys providing a much more important level of grandeur to the whole experience, but at the same time it's careful to not get bogged down, thanks to excellently paced drumwork and occasional switches up in riffs. Lead work is present here, but it is used in a much dirtier and subtle manner, almost backing up the power of the orchestration rather than building it's own path. This isn't a pretty, melodic affair, it's a dreary march of out and out funeral doom.

The keys have an archaic, aged feel to them which adds a level of mysticism to the whole experience. Like most bands of the style, Skepticism stands out as a clear influence, but even then the album feels to move around a lot more. The Ea like sense of melody used on the bands sophmore release is largely ignored here, so this does fall into the trappings of being easy to ignore as 'just another Skeptism clone', but the band has something about them that helps them stand out as being better than most.

The production job on Liquid Dimensions Change is exquisite for a debut and would be suitable for any doom band no matter how many releases they'd had. The guitars are dirtier and more distorted than the bands next release, which fits in well for the less guitar driven music. The drums thud pretty flatly with a lot of power, which helps them drive the music forward without becoming dominant at all. And as mentioned, the keys successful get that medieval vibe that Skepticism really trademarked rather than simply being pretty or orchestral; they really give the whole experience a haunting and ancient vibe which suits the genre perfectly. Finishing off the package are the exceptional vocals of À.K. iEzer which gurgle and echo around the rest of the sound perfectly. Uncompromisingly harsh yet still fitting in with the morbid march the band is on.

To be fair, this release is pretty unassuming, it has very little that will really grab a seasoned doom listener, but the execution of the pretty standard ideas is fantastic. Don't expect anything you haven't heard before, but expect it to be better than most of it.