Abstract Spirit / Ennui - _Escapism_
(MFL Records, 2014)
by: Chaim Drishner (8 out of 10)
Rising Russian doom label MFL (Moscow Funeral League) -- managed by E.S., guitarist / vocalist for the prominent doom / death band Who Dies in Siberian Slush -- who's introduced to the world the very existence of the excellent Georgian funeral doom duo Ennui, has taken another step forward, toward receiving universal fame and the acknowledgement of the masses, succeeding in assembling under its roof (at least for this single, one-time album) a couple of the finest Former Soviet Union bands playing at the lowest end of the metallic scale, the label's aforementioned household band Ennui and Russian enigmatic prodigy Abstract Spirit.

_Escapism_ is the name of that interesting joint venture -- the latest in a line of intriguing musical endeavors offered by MFL -- a two-way split between both bands, each contributing a couple of songs, the shortest of which clocks around the eleven minutes mark.

For those uninitiated with the works of both Abstract Spirit and Ennui, it is strongly recommended you put your hands on any of their outputs, for each of their albums deserves to be listened to, that is if you're into either ultra dark and beyond-heavy funeral doom, or into the more sophisticated (but still as heavy) side of the funereal metal niche.

We love both bands' recordings, but for some reason Abstract Spirit have always struck us as more appealing, probably because they have incorporated some unusual instruments into their suffocating brand of metal (a tuba, for instance) in addition to exhibiting a fuller, more rounded and layered horror-gothic sound coupled with baroque-like kind of theatrics, wise usage of keyboard lines and occasional choirs; Abstract Spirit's main goal has always been creating an impenetrable, thick and dark textured atmosphere, first and foremost. It is easier to relate to such music, despite its acute inhospitality; all one has to do, when listening to the music of Abstract Spirit, is to -feel- it, and let the dark ambiance waves embrace him / her. Granted, not the most sophisticated of the lot, however Abstract Spirit are most certainly among the heaviest and most sinister outfits out there.

Ennui, on the other hand, have taken the charade path, masquerading an exquisitely complex / sophisticated approach to writing songs with a shroud of primitivity and crude melodies, making the first impression benign and indifferent, yet the more the musical layers are being peeled off, the more the compositional grandeur starts to reveal itself.

Ennui, both on their couple of full-lengths as well as on _Escapism_, exhibit rather a conservative, quite old-school-ish doom / death sound having a rawer production, tipping the scales towards the death metal spectrum; Ennui's keyboards, for instance, are hardly as prominent or as colorful as the ones Abstract Spirit use; they also like to play guitar, a lot, and they incorporate both tried-and-true, good old heavy metal riffing as well as some classic guitar leads into their megalithic sound, as opposed to Abstract Spirit who usually use sustained chords upon chords to generate a layered, thick darkness.

_Escapism_ enables you to listen back to back to a couple of intriguing bands, and to appreciate the differing paths to the ultimate funeral doom experience both have chosen to tread, in terms of production, sound and methodology with which each band approaches the painstaking process of writing those gripping tunes that they do; those aforementioned qualities are quite different when compared, but still both bands maintain a strong funeral doom facade without venturing off and without adopting alien aesthetics.

The couple of Abstract Spirit tracks take the band back to their simpler moments as were captured, say, on their debut album _Liquid Dimensions Change_; a devolution of sorts both in the layering and the suffocating ambiance, both tracks showcasing a more traditional interpretation of the doom / death niche; slightly choral, yes, and also a tad neoclassical / symphonic, but still simpler when compared to the band's latter works. Not that the tracks are not exceptionally beautiful or dark, but they are extremely linear to the point of familiarity, and the asphyxiating, monstrous, plodding funeral doom of old has been replaced with a slightly faster, more dynamic and clearly more airy take on funeral doom. The tuba's absence is noticeable, but instead, the band have incorporated more of that choral work, adding an artistic touch to the low-end music.

Ennui's couple of tracks featured on _Escapism_ are total old-school death metal with a progressive touch, played slow and with a very brooding sensibility. The music is inherently guitar-driven and riff-oriented, having simple, thick sounding guitar rhythms and an abundance of high-pitched and beautifully melancholic leads; there are some time changes in the main rhythmic flow, and the dynamics -- possibly being the band's trademark -- are all screwed up and bent. But other than that, the couple of tracks are pretty much traditionally constructed and sounding. It's again, a simpler take on funeral doom compared to the band's previous works, but nonetheless as effective and as engaging, what with the excellent, larger-than-life growler and somber, austere atmosphere. The ethereal, gentle keyboard strokes conjure sentiments of dark solitude and other-worldliness, having a stargazing quality to them.

All in all, _Escapism_ is an excellent tool by which the uninitiated listener could be acquainted with two of the finest funeral doom / death crop the underground has spawned. Equipped with equal measures talent and proficiency, both Abstract Spirit and Ennui have recorded between them four tracks of insurmountable majestic darkness of the highest quality; four tracks that embody every magical faculty this sub-genre of doom metal owns, or should own.

_Escapism_ is therefore highly recommended; after listening to this magnificent split in its entirety, you too will consider it one of the best outputs of year 2014.

Contact: https://mfl-records.bandcamp.com/album/escapism

(article published 7/7/2014)


ALBUMS
12/23/2013 C Drishner 9.5 Abstract Spirit - Theomorphic Defectiveness
9/30/2011 C Drishner 9 Abstract Spirit - Horror Vacui
5/2/2010 Q Kalis 8 Abstract Spirit - Tragedy and Weeds
1/22/2009 Q Kalis 8 Abstract Spirit - Liquid Dimensions Change
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