Abysmal Grief - _Abysmal Grief_
(Black Widow Records, 2007)
by: Chaim Drishner (9.5 out of 10)
Black Widow Records had been acquainted to this reviewer via their Pentagram release _Review Your Choices_ circa year 2000. It failed to impress this inapt pupil and so the label has been regrettably forsaken. Enter year 2008 or so, and Black Widow Records had to be re-inspected, re-evaluated and re-introduced into the heart and mind of that once-foolish metal aficionado.

I have listened to many a doom metal band throughout my twenty something years of underground trudging, but nothing has prepared me for Black Widow's late 2007 release of the Italian trio Abysmal Grief. I have listened... and I have been blown away!

Abysmal Grief is the epitome of gothic-oriented doom metal. Wait a second before you skip to the next review, you impatient purist! In case the accursed 'goth' adjective has made you hostile, hear me out: gothic doom metal has been ostracized, ridiculed and shunned by many lovers of extreme metal altogether. This is mainly due to the facade gothic metal has portrayed as being effeminate, saccharine-sweet and downright non-extreme on all accounts.

No, Abysmal Grief's self-titled album is nothing like the above described; nothing like that at all, and still, it is gothic as fuck. This is mainly due to the fact that 'gothic' metal as we know it has never been really 'gothic', i.e., genuinely dark in that respect. When I think of the gothic adjective, I summon vistas of alchemical magick, druids in black robes and blood rituals. I think of vast cathedrals and depravity. I think of the dark ages, filthy, prejudiced, primitive Europe; I think of disease, I think of the plague, of the pestilence; I think of feces thrown out of the windows for lack of sanitation; I think of black rats and decomposing cadavers on the streets of the great European capitals. Abysmal Grief's depraved sounds have epitomized those hostile human conditions in all their glory, horror and ugliness. If there ever was anything that would be rendered as gothic doom metal, this is exactly how I want, how I need, my cup of bitter, mind-altering brew.

Abysmal Grief's work of wonder is easiest to describe by actually using other bands as reference points to their sound, but even so, nothing will be closer to the sheer atmosphere this magnificent trio generates other than listening to this horrific and enigmatic album using your own ears and intellect. Think of a perfect amalgamation between Moonspell's _Irreligious_ album (mainly due to the baritone, monk-like chants and the crude eroticism); Cultus Sanguine's _The Sum of All Fears_ (choking thick ambiance); Tristitia's _One With Darkness_ or _Crucidiction_ (again, the dark baritone chants, the sacrilegious musical stance); Reverend Bizarre's aesthetics and theatrics (non-inverted crosses and the dark religious innuendos).

You could squeeze into this rubric many other bands that either have influenced Abysmal Grief's creation or those which Abysmal Grief's music is reminiscent of: from Mortuary Drape's black heavy metal etiquette, through Skepticism's funeral organs and their stark resemblance to what Abysmal Grief are performing; to Root's opera-like dark heavy metal orgy that pops up in one's mind when listening to Abysmal Grief's grand performance. Yet I guarantee there is a whole lot more of those; but none does it better (incorporating all the scary shit out there into one, solid musical offering) than these Italians -- and I mean, nobody!

Gloomy, funeral-procession-like ambiance, with the heavy use of organs and what sounds like harpsichord, Abysmal Grief musically communicate with the dead; they are the great necromancers of music. The band have voiced their unique fascination with communicating with the metaphysical life beyond life, and this auditory translation of that very fascination into music surely sounds like that. The recording is horror-filled, almost genuinely scary, daunting and haunting. The listening period turns into a macabre ritual one is an unwilling participant in; a religious deed of sorts in the gargantuan gothic church of the departed.

The self-titled album also contains the excellent _Mors Eleison_ EP (released in 2006 via I Hate Records) so you get an almost 80 minute worth of sublime, religious experience that would end within a blink of an eye, making you wanting more of that black bile. The rare aesthetics of the packaging, the cover and other artwork, photos, booklet and lyrics -- all scream class, and the sound is quite superb.

Epilogue: If you have ever wondered what might be a perfect metal album that will showcase spirituality, mystery, atmosphere; and will embody the depravity of black metal, the somberness of doom metal and the craving of the human soul for the unknown and the beyond, Abysmal Grief is probably your answer. This is what gothic metal should be.

Contact: http://www.abysmalgrief.com/

(article published 11/6/2008)


ALBUMS
10/16/2014 C Drishner 9 Abysmal Grief - We Lead the Procession
6/8/2013 C Drishner 9 Abysmal Grief - Feretri
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