Thursday, October 23, 2014

Unfathomed of Abyss:"Arisen Upon Oblivion"

This Texas based project is the sole work of Kevin Price , who employed Kevin Talley of Dying Fetus / Daath fame to provide the drums . Price forsakes the more organic approach taken by the flux of American Black metal band and goes off on it's own path woven from a discordant geometry.  Opening with a 14 minute "To Unequal the Balance of the Cosmos" the album gets off to an oddly uncertain beginning. The uneven mix is some what a distraction, not that black metal is always known for the best production. The lo-fi "Necro" sound tends to work better for rawer more atmospheric shades of black metal. While Kevin Talley is certainly not shabby as a drummer, he is not a black metal drummer and a drummer more versed in the genre would have known where to throw in the appropriate blast beats to create the desired sound. Never the less Talley does ore than just dial it in, adding a few creative accents of his own.

The main element of black metal to this album are the vocals do captured to most Emperor growls, with more  death metal like  lows providing a good  counterpoint to the more Ihsahn like snarls. The vocals sit better placed in the mix that the keyboards that sound like they are a little lost in the song as the moan in the forefront like ghosts trying to find their way through purgatory. The darker doomy passages the song ends with is one of the song's stronger moments. The angular dissonance that pervades the song  works best when it allows it self to melt into something looking more like free form jazz.

The second song finds the guitar is fuller and  the drums are really far back in the mix. These placements shift over the course of the album, mainly with the synths and guitars trading placing for the spotlight, though always leaving the drums in the distance. I suppose they were recorded at Talley's Florida Studio and emailed over, which seems to be more common practice for session drummers. Saving travel expense and they can bang out a few of these sort of things in an afternoon. People aren't buying records so you gotta do something to pay the bills. Perhaps it's the compression crammed onto them in the transfer that create the distant element, it just feels like an odd karaoke of sorts.

It seems when shorter and sweeter the song are often heavier. There is much more of an atmospheric death metal vibe to "Within the Glory of Other Lights", making me question if this is really black metal, sure it's dark and has the dissonance, the vocal when reaching up into a more venomous register are more black metal than death metal, but it lacks some key elements like tremolo picking and blast beats. This is flirted with on "Within the Glory..."  There is almost a Meshuggah like pound to the bass at times that would make this more aligned with death metal. Despite what ever genre it is aligned to it's heavy and effective.

The more conventional black metal sound finally emerges from it's tomb on "To  Nothing" which is also one of the album's strongest songs.Like the Emperor comparison is not unfounded, it is much more like Ihsahn's solo works than say "Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk". "Within the Void' does hit the perfect balance in what this project sets out to do , set the more atmospheric elements against an angular tangle of progressive mathematics. Where it falls short of say coming closer to Emperor is at their heart despite all the pageantry and progressive elements Emperor's main goal was to grab you by the throat and none of these song do that for long before indulging themselves in the atonal poly rhythmic grandiosity.When it comes to doing this sort of thing around here...well we know Ihsahn personally so the black metal bar is raised pretty high. But I think if you go into this expecting something more along the lines of Cold World, that is heavier on the atmosphere than the metal, but in doing so creates a more spectral oppression of it's own, then you have a better idea where this is going to be coming from.

He gets credit for aiming high.  Really the production is  this albums only problem and it's mainly where everything is placed in the mix. The vocals are well executed and I think there are plenty of good ideas here. I think if he took this project in a more atmospheric death metal direction like Ulcerate , it would really shine. What's missing is a certain nastiness and sense of evil or disturbance missing since most American Black Metal bands are more about catharsis rather than darkness. Price is obviously going for something different here and he is successful at creating something that defies most genres unless you want to string them all together and say it's Atmospheric blackened death metal, with an emphasis on the atmosphere, there is certainly nothing wrong with that it just takes a few listens for it to settle in and properly unsettle you.

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