As we cross into the latter half of 2015, having surrounded ourselves with wave after wave of quality black metal already, we pick up right where we left off. Hailing from Finland, Abyssion brings a psychedelic industrial fusion to black metal in their latest release, Luonnon harmonia ja vihreä liekki. It’s a take on the genre that has gone unexplored since the start of the year, but the sheer enjoyment found on these particular tracks will ensure that won’t be the case going forward.
Now, if you’re one of those guys confusing this band with that blackened death metal band out of Georgia of the same name, I’ll put this bluntly: stop it. These are very different sounds and what we are working with here is on another planet in comparison — the similarities are in name alone. This Abyssion is a relatively new project, formed in 2007 by members of Dark Buddha Rising and Oranssi Pazuzu. I mean, with names like that, how can this not grab your attention? Fortunately, the sound is as intoxicating as all that would imply.
“Luonnon harmonia” opens with a very black-‘n’-roll feel with just the slightest industrial flare. For over three minutes, we focus on repeating lines of this character before the vocals kick in and we take on some more traditional black metal rhythms. The vocals are…interesting—very enveloping and deliberate, and not exactly what I expected to accompany musicianship of this nature. And after several listens, it’s hard to say exactly how well it works. Either way, it adds to the uniqueness. No matter, the enjoyment is primarily in the tempo and guitar leads, which is where the focus lies. There are only five tracks, some fairly long, so we should expect some repetition in cadence. However, each section of this opener tends to drag on a few bars longer than necessary. It’s a fascinating sound…but Abyssion definitely makes their point.
Fortunately, the subsequent tracks don’t give us the same impression. “Kosmoksesta tuli hautani” and “Vihreä liekki” have a similar black-‘n’-roll origin, but there’s a bit more atmosphere and complexity. As the latter track shows off a stupidly catchy lead riff, you start to understand the psychedelic nature of this sound. This is the type of guitar work that works so brilliantly with the synth undertones. It begins to feel like [insert literally any classic black metal band] fused with a fuck-ton of acid. The rhythms become chaotic, showing off thrash elements, while the guitars in “Vihreä liekki” almost feel like hardcore punk. With an abundance of power chords all over the place, you can’t help but get lost in the cadence.
Unfortunately, it’s easy to get lost in “Ajatus kirkastuu.” The intentions are obvious, as they use cosmic effects, coupled with a fairly even-paced introduction to add the their psychedelic feel. But these moments of deliberation are, once again, too long. The synthetic aspects don’t do quite enough to enhance the sound. It’s only four minutes long, with a brief vocal section, yet somehow seems longer. The good news is that the closer — “Pysähdyn kuuntelemaan hiljaisuutta” — is the most dynamic track on the album, and arguably the catchiest. The leads are so shriekingly (did I just invent a word?) captivating and the rhythms so relentless that you can’t help but become immersed in the sound from the outset. You get the sense that this is the sound that Abyssion is all about. This is how they want to define themselves.
All in all, we find ourselves with an enjoyable listen. There are plenty of head-scratching moments that require revisiting, but when you get down to the essence of what Abyssion is trying to create, there is plenty of quality to be had. It’s a unique blend of influences that is rarely brought to the black metal world, but here it works. It’s cosmic, it’s psychedelic, and it’s dark. Quite frankly, you can stretch this sound all you want, but as long as that last quality exists… you’re doing alright. Now. Let’s do some drugs and go through this again.
“Ein Bier… bitte.”