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Abyssus - Into the Abyss - 94%

Edmund Sackbauer, October 20th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2015, CD, Memento Mori

For me personally such a thing as “too much Old School Death Metal” does not really exist. I just love collecting that kind of stuff and I am always pleased to discover a new quality band playing that style. Enter this Greek DM warriors who have released quite a bunch of EPs and Splits before things got serious and their full length debut “Into the Abyss” saw the light of day thanks to the well-established Memento Mori label.

Abyssus play a good mix of mainly US style DM enhanced by influences from European bands like Asphyx or Bolt Thrower. The basic riffs are often fast and aggressive but sometimes also slow and stoic. The chords have a pretty simple and straight-forward feel to them most of the time but there are some cleverly implemented variations of the main themes. The lead guitar parts create a lot of atmosphere acting in the background for the most part delivering some eerie and sometimes melancholic harmonies. Of course there are some traditional soloing parts but those are kept compact so that they never distract from the track itself.

The drumming is tight and on point. Most of the time the man behind the kit acts in mid-tempo mode adding a few well-timed fills and blasts but there are several occasions where he puts the pedal to the metal. There are a bunch of sections where the tempo is completely taken out and the music crawls out of the speakers like an undead corpse. Those parts constitute some of the highlights providing a similar dark and oppressive vibe that can be found on several Aspyhx albums. Overall these guys really know how to write a hooky and highly enjoyable DM tune.

Singer and band leader Kostas does a fantastic job with his tone being somewhere between John Tardy and Martin van Drunen. His growls are delivered in convincing and powerful fashion and while he belts out the lyrics with brutality and anger each word can be perfectly understood. His vocals are the icing on this delicious OSDM cake and help ramping up the intensity to another level.

The production is raw and filthy but very dynamic at the same time. The band managed to find the right balance between sounding rotten and putrid but also crystal clear and punchy. While the advanced technical options of this decade have been used to create a great end result Abyssus mainly pay tribute to the glorious music of the nineties.

In the end your enjoyment of “Into the Abyss” will depend on how you answer the question “How much do you like OSDM?”. The innovation level is pretty low and Kostas and his guys do not even make the slightest attempt in reinventing the wheel. As I can answer the mentioned question with “very much” I am more than satisfied with this classy and greatly executed piece of rotten music.

Obituary revisited with malice - 83%

KC, December 15th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2015, CD, Memento Mori

Obituary-esque bands are rare. Of the top of my mind, I can only recall Viogression coming close to that band’s initial glory. There were others like Six Feet Under that tried to recreate some of that magic but met with only partial success, that too on the first album or so. Even though there were bands influenced by that Celtic Frost-discharged death metal sound, hardly anyone could compete with John Tardy’s vocal delivery and the simplistic but supremely effective riffing, especially those haunting solos. None of them really left a mark nor did anything significant with that sound. Meanwhile, Obituary started rapping and it went downhill from there. The comeback material was inspiring but it can’t hold a candle to the band’s first two albums.

But the moment I first heard Abyssus, especially the Greek band’s split/EP material, I was utterly impressed. It had that ‘Slowly We Rot’ vibe which I thought was impossible to create since. After that one, I found solace in grindcore albums but hardly any death metal ones – the hurricane-like intensity was unmatched. ‘Slowly We Rot’ became not only my favourite Obituary album, but it also still ranks as one of my all-time favourite death metal albums. The early Abyssus material sounds astonishingly close to that, and even their vocalist sounds uncannily similar to John Tardy from that era. I couldn’t believe how effective the music was, taking the best elements of Obituary if you will and compounding it with the old school aesthetics of say Death, Asphyx and Unleashed. If you call yourself a death metal fan, you’ve got to revel in music of this ilk. I particularly loved the upbeat crust leanings that the band seemed to portray on that material.

Memento Mori signed up the band for a debut full length release, which came to be called ‘Into the Abyss’. It sounds closer to Obituary‘s ‘Cause of Death’ album than ‘Slowly We Rot’. It means Abyssus sound more mature with better songwriting, even though it comes at the expense of toning down the raw energy, that pure adrenaline rush. I guess you can’t have your cake and eat it too. But there are more fans of ‘Cause of Death’ era than ‘Slowly We Rot’ and with good reason. ‘Into the Abyss’ is a very worthy attempt at sounding in that vein, but the band also make sure to combine pure influences of other bands, most notably of early Asphyx and Unleashed, and the whole album is brimming with that raw yet distilled proto-death metal appeal. The songs are caustic, brisk and offer more variations than the ones that were peddling in the style a couple of decades back. The relevance is here and it’s refreshing, especially considering that it’s not been done often in this style, not then, not now.

The drumming is quite upbeat which gives the music that aggression and drive missing in several old school sounding bands. Abyssus possess a vicious edge, one that’s not synthesized from modern production values. The thing can still poison you easily with its toxicity, and that rawness, that vigour brings to mind onslaughts of Swedish death metal bands like Dismember and Vermin. There’s fierce tension that’s maintained here, as Abyssus trudge, march, and stomp through the cesspool of modern excesses. My only gripe is that the presence of leads is minimal here and old school death metal doesn’t sound the same without it. Nonetheless, the consistency is maintained throughout and Abyssus prove to be lethal in their expression.

‘Into the Abyss’ is a superbly tempered old school death metal album that’s sufficiently nostalgic as well as packs in a powerful dose of grating brutality.

Written for Transcending Obscurity webzine -