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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 -