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A union of weak and lost souls. - 60%

Diamhea, November 10th, 2017
Written based on this version: 2017, Digital, Tanglade

Quite possibly the biggest surprise of the year, Spectre Abysm sees The Daemonic Era through with one valued asset its direct predecessor didn't have nearly as much of: time. It has been seven years since Phantasmagoria, and Daemon has been so quiet on the promotional front, I was within inches of declaring the band essentially defunct due to lack of online presence. In all honesty, Jensen likely couldn't care less about maintaining a Facebook page, but has all of this diverted effort resulted in anything worth a damn, to say nothing of the Limbonic Art name at all?

Worth mentioning first is Phantasmagoria itself, an album that while largely lambasted upon release, has held up quite well to these ears. Hollow, abrasive production values aside, the record delivered what most would have expected from a Limbonic Art album sans Morfeus: rabid, thrash-inflected symphonic black metal interspersed with moments of drawling, introspective atmospheric diatribes that routinely sputter upon impact and drag song lengths out further than functionally necessary. Still, "Crypt of Bereavement," "Prophetic Dreams," "Dark Winds;" there are plenty of killer cuts amid the gratuitous repetition, so where does that leave Spectre Abysm?

In a compositionally flawed place, right from the start. Daemon is clearly trying to evoke phantoms of eras long past, coming together as a handful of crucially long tracks basked in repetition and seemingly endless, cyclical Emperor-esque tension. Said tension feels like it often builds up, only to never release into any payoff worth a fucking damn. It is shocking how one can think of any of these riffs as sufficient in such protracted confines. Opener "Demonic Resurrection" lays this flaw out clearly right from the start, cranking out a ravenous assault of tremolos in solidly lethal lockstep with the surprisingly improved programmed drums, only to go absolutely nowhere warranting its ten-plus minute running time. It feels like padding upon padding, with patience being the only victim.

These issues persist for the duration, save for sections of "Omega Doom" and "Triumph of Sacrilege." The remainder is steeped in exhausting blastbeats and Daemon's best attempts at invoking the cosmic diaties hailed on In Abhorrence Dementia, a record that bears some ephemeral similarities to Spectre Abysm, particularly sections of "Triumph of Sacrilege," during which Daemon hails Satan atop a pulpit of space dust and pulverised adversaries, however few there may be nowadays.

If it seems as if I am spending most of this review talking about other albums, it is because Spectre Abysm does little to warrant its own existence. Daemon has proven his ability to write chest-pounding, raucous riffs occupying the black/death/thrash cross-section in his own Sarcoma Inc. side project, but the brutal honesty is that 2008's Psychopathology contains more memorable riffs in a single song than all of Spectre Abysm. To Daemon's credit, the production values have improved, and through this the programmed drums feel more direct and well thought out. The muddled, abrasive mess of a mix on Phantasmagoria has been eschewed in favour of a cleaner, more direct and balanced attack here, which gives much needed bite to the meagre riffs themselves. The ethereal interludes feel wandering and pointless, much like the weaker sections of The Ultimate Death Worship, and the songs proper lack payoffs in a huge way. This just isn't cutting it for me, but maybe five years down the line I'll be able to appreciate it more, like Phantasmagoria. At the very least, we know Limbonic Art is still alive - but maybe it is time to hang up the cloak after all.