Artist: Abaddon Incarnate
Album Title: The Wretched Sermon
Label: Transcending Obscurity Records
Date of Release: 5 August 2022
It has been a busy time of late, so I am playing serious catch-up with some reviews that I have been meaning to write. This is one such album, the new long player from Irish grindcore/death metal band, Abaddon Incarnate. Despite being around for around a quarter of a century or thereabouts, ‘The Wretched Sermon’ is just the sixth studio album of the band’s career. That’s not exactly prolific, but nevertheless, the quartet have garnered something of a cult status in their chosen genre. It isn’t difficult to understand why either because their output has always been of a high quality. As such, the first album in eight years, since 2014’s ‘Pessimist’ was always something I was interested to hear and delve into in detail.
The nice thing to note is that, since 2020, Abaddon Incarnate once again features three original 1994 members within the current quartet. Drummer Olan Parkinson has re-joined his former bandmates Bill Whelan (guitars/high vocals) and Steve Maher (guitars/low vocals), alongside 2015 recruit on the bass, Irene Siragusa, who also contributes vocals too. The stable line-up has meant that long term fans will be able to identify the music as that of Abaddon Incarnate, whilst also enjoying the fact that, once again, the output has been tweaked, refined, altered, call it what you will. ‘The Wretched Sermon’ is both familiar and fresh, the very best of both worlds.
This new record may only last for 36 minutes, but the thirteen songs contain a lot to wrap your ears around and delve into. You get the familiar aggressive grind that seeks to batter seven bells out of the listener as well as the heavy death metal influences too. But on ‘The Wretched Sermon’, you can expect to hear much more besides. For my money, there is a greater emphasis on atmosphere as well as some insanely groovy or catchy passages that you cannot fail to like, if extreme metal tickles your particular fancy.
However, most impressive, is the way in which the elements come together so cleanly, and homogenously; there is none of that awkward clunkiness as the band shift from one idea to another, searching for a transition that just isn’t there. Instead, everything flows, and it all makes a great deal of sense, as well as offering a level of variety that isn’t always a strength of the death/grind genre.
The opening track, ‘Rising Of The Lights’ is a killer composition. Starting with a drum flourish, it soon explodes in full death metal attack with a dirty sounding tone to the riffs, a little akin to the likes of early Entombed and the ‘Stockholm’ death sound. The pace is quick, with blastbeats, wailing solos, and Whelan’s vocals frenzied in the extreme. The barrage, for that is what it is, then delivers the cheekiest of riffs that instantly has me purring. That’s not it, because suddenly, the pace slows and the ensuing riff, laced with evil atmosphere is a utter monster, accented by some apocalyptic sounds. It’s a sub-three-minute song and yet it packs more variety and intrigue into it than most that are double its size and length.
With my attention fully grabbed, Abaddon Incarnate decide to go for the jugular with a pure death/grind pummelling courtesy of the minute-long ‘Veritas’, followed by ‘Gateways’ which only continues with the intensity. Again, I am reminded of old-school death metal thanks to the glorious riffs that writhe and churn in the gutter. The catchiness of the song though, is without question, as the chorus of sorts sticks in your head long after it is finished, whilst the groove and cool lead solos add to its overall charm.
‘Parasite’ then underlines the sense of variety as it reminds me of ‘Roots’-era Sepultura with a pounding, tribal-esque drumbeat, vague thrash feel, and savage attitude. The quiet, creepy piano outro to the otherwise uncompromisingly brutal ‘Killing Spree’ is also unexpected, but entirely welcome, whilst the thunderous out-and-out death metal attack of the aptly named ‘Into The Maelstrom’ also ends in a foreboding, atmospheric manner.
If I had any kind of quibble with this record, it’d be that, as we near the end, there are a couple of tracks that, despite being aggressive as hell, don’t quite hit me as hard as the others. They are still good songs, but in the context of what has gone before, they suffer ever so slightly.
But I’m being picky and this all ends with the introduction of the penultimate composition, ‘Isolation And Decay’. Whereas the remainder of the album focused on songs around the two-to-three-minute mark, this bucks the trend significantly as it pushes close to seven-minutes. But what a seven minutes it is, because it includes a little bit of absolutely everything that Abaddon Incarnate are good at. As such, you get passages of insanely fast grindcore, gnarly but engaging riffs, groove, and a surprising dose of melody too. The track is liberally laced with atmosphere, especially when the pace is slowed, the melody is increased, and we delve into what could be considered to be doom-infused death/grind. Wailing leads emerge from the depths, whilst the bass dances almost playfully in the murk. I know that this song isn’t completely representative of the Abaddon Incarnate sound, but if they did more of this on future albums, I’d be one very happy bunny.
I wouldn’t call my love of this album a surprise as such, because I am familiar with the quality of Abaddon Incarnate, and hoped I’d like the resultant product. What is more of a surprise is the way that the Irish unit have stepped up their aural exploration even further and with such impressive results. ‘The Wretched Sermon’ is extreme and explosive, but also masterfully crafted, ensuring that it is quite possibly the best that the band have ever served up. It’s definitely my favourite and they’ll have to go some next time to beat it.
The Score of Much Metal: 90%