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Abyssal - "Novit Enim Dominus Qui Sunt Eius" (CD)

Abyssal - "Novit Enim Dominus Qui Sunt Eius" CD cover image

"Novit Enim Dominus Qui Sunt Eius" track listing:

1. Forebode (1:03)
2. The Tongue of the Demagogue (8:10)
3. Under the Wretched Sun of Hattin (7:44)
4. Elegy of Ruin (0:36)
5. The Headless Serpent (4:39)
6. A Sheath of Deceit (3:23)
7. Elegy of Staves (0:23)
8. A Malthusian Epoch (6:27)
9. As Paupers Safeguard Magnates (8:13)
10. Created Sick; Commanded to be Well (10:28)
11. The Last King (8:16)

Reviewed by on March 5, 2013

"Abyssal’s latest album is an exercise in endurance, with reverb that drags on and on (and on…) and atmosphere so thick it’s hard to distinguish one instrument from another."

Bringing about darkness unending and dragging the denizens of Earth screaming into the abyss seems like the goal of just about every third black or death metal act. Well, Abyssal has succeeded with second album “Novit Enim Dominus Qui Sunt Eius.” But as it turns out, unending darkness is actually pretty monotonous, and frankly gets boring rather quickly. Unfortunately, as this album shows, it’s hard to properly enjoy hell without a little bit of heaven every now and again just to break things up.

On the sound quality front, there’s muffled production for the sake of atmosphere or an old-school aesthetic, and then there’s Abyssal. The instruments are so jumbled together by the muddied mix that the tracks often just sound like one long atonal sound effect. Although they do separate from time to time, it’s frequently difficult to distinguish drums, guitars, and vocals. If the robed lads in Abyssal actually employ a full-time bassist, they absolutely don’t need to. With the exception of a tiny segment on “As Paupers Safeguard Magnates,” there really isn’t a single audible bass note to be found across the entire release. But considering the band keeps its membership secret, for all I know those sounds on the aforementioned track could have been computer-generated.

At almost an hour long, there’s somehow only a handful of instances where the music manages to distinguish itself and rise above the ceaseless muck. “Created Sick; Commanded to Be Well” offers a smattering of marching-to-war type drum beats, and “The Headless Serpent” opens with some faster guitar work that still brings out the darkness without getting (immediately anyway) lost in the fuzzy wall of sound. There’s of course creepy intros and interludes, along with some chanted whispers, which end up with differing results. “Under the Wretched Sun of Hattin,” for instance, brings to mind the silliness of Dethklok more than it does a group of cultists summoning the awful thing that ends the world.

Abyssal’s latest album is an exercise in endurance, with reverb that drags on and on (and on…) and atmosphere so thick it’s hard to distinguish one instrument from another. Even the shortest tracks can require a good deal of patience, with the three-minute “A Sheath of Deceit” over-repetitive in particular, but different metal heads may get different things out of the album. There’s no question that Abyssal sounds a whole lot like Portal, so if that band works for you then give this one a try, as it's now available online in its entirety.

Highs: Abyssal has the dark atmosphere down pat.

Lows: The sound quality is awful and the music is monotonous, repetitive, patience-trying, etc. etc. etc. etc. (and on and on and....)

Bottom line: The dark atmosphere is there, but at the cost of awful sound quality and relentless repetition.

Rated 2 out of 5 skulls
2 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)