Album Title: Death Revival
Label: Transcending Obscurity
Date of Release: 21 January 2022
Growing up, I wasn’t a big fan of straight-up death metal as a genre. As I discovered more extreme forms of music, I quickly developed a love of the Gothenburg melodic death metal sound, but at the time, much of the traditional death metal of the 80s and 90s left me a little cold. My tastes have since changed and I find much to enjoy, wondering how my fledgling ears got it so wrong at the outset. I blame the naivety of youth. That said, one band that I did rather enjoy was Obituary, a discovery made via their ‘World Demise’ album, released back in 1994. I loved the crushing, bleak heaviness, the no-nonsense approach, and those one-of-a-kind vocals from John Tardy that sounded like he was part growling and part retching into the gutter.
Why am I telling you this? Well it’s because I’ve discovered a Greek band called Abyssus, a five-piece comprised of Konstantinos Analytis (vocals), Panos Gkourmpaliotis (guitars), Chris Liakos (guitars), Konstantinos Ragiadakos (bass), and Jan Westermann (drums). And apparently, they share my love for Obituary.
Abyssus started life a decade or so ago, releasing their debut full-length ‘Into The Abyss’, back in 2015. After a wait of nearly seven years, in which time Abyssus have unleashed a couple of EPs and split releases, we are presented with ‘Death Revival’ their sophomore full-length release.
If you’re not a fan of old school death metal with a thrash edge, then I suggest you look away now, because that’s exactly what you get from Abyssus on this album. The quintet don’t even try to hide their love for the gnarly sounds of the late 80s and early 90s, but then again, why should they? This is the music that they clearly love and ‘Death Revival’, so aptly named, is their attempt at bringing back a slice of those times, brought kicking and screaming into 2022. It’s an awful lot of fun too.
Right from the very first moment, it’s clear that Abyssus worship at the altar of the almighty riff. Opener ‘Metal Of Death’ unleashes a potent and swift death-meets-thrash riff, ably accompanied by a skipping beat laid down by the rhythm section. The vocals are so Tardy-like, that any attempt to distance themselves from their Obituary worship is utterly hopeless, Analytis gurning and spewing forth his diatribes with real gusto. Being an homage to the old school, there are plenty of lead breaks and fast solos littered throughout the relentless opening salvo, ensuring that your neck takes some real punishment as you listen.
The formula is more or less repeated within ‘The Ten Commandments’. It’s another thrash/death fusion of towering proportions that has an even more demonstrable thrash edge, not to mention a greater use of differing tempos too, to beef up the dynamics just that little bit more. I particularly like the slower, lurching riffs that appear at the heart of the song. Those that like a more polished and pristine production might be left feeling a little disappointed but for the rest of us, the slightly lo-fi, dirty sound will be lauded as the perfect accompaniment to Abyssus’ music, as it lends a sense of authenticity to proceedings.
At a smidgen above thirty minutes, ‘Death Revival’ is a succinct beast and in part, that’s what makes the album work so well. There is very little that’s unnecessary or extraneous, meaning that the Abyssus attack is short, sharp, and highly professional.
‘Uncertain Future’ is perhaps the most accessible of all of the songs on the record thanks to an almost melodic chorus. It is also quite possibly the most relentless in terms of the battery that it offers, particularly in the drumming stakes.
I love the rather unexpected violin (I think) intro to ‘Genocide’ which carries with it a Middle Eastern flavour in the process. It’s the calm before the storm however because before long, in come the riffs, like a marauding horde, hell bent on causing as much violence as possible. If I’m not mistaken, I hear the odd Death-like moment within the constantly changing riffs that assault the ears incessantly. As always, Analytis leads from the front with his tortured diatribes of spite and vitriol. If you don’t like this song, then clearly old school death metal isn’t for you. But that’s cool, as it isn’t an experience enjoyed by everyone.
As good as ‘Genocide’ is, I have to declare that Abyssus leave the best until last in the form of ‘When Wolves Are Out To Hunt’. One of two songs that extend beyond six minutes, it takes a while to get going and when it does, the pace is markedly slower, much more doom-like at times, but certainly no less intense and heavy, with the wonderful guitar tones doing a great deal of damage to ears and neck muscles alike. Naturally, the pace quickens in places, accented by some surprisingly black metal-esque lead guitar lines too. However, it is the ensuing lead solo that steals the show and indeed becomes my personal stand-out moment on the entire record. And the reason for this is because it is easily the most melodic and sensitive moment on ‘Death Revival’, completely unexpected but ever so welcome, as it offers something a bit different to the relentless onslaught elsewhere.
I have to admit that I’m impressed by Abyssus and ‘Death Revival’. It’s a record that does exactly what it says on the tin, doing its best to revive the old school death metal of the 80s and 90s well into the next Millennium. If you’re looking for subtlety, then you’ll need to look elsewhere I’m afraid, because there is nothing subtle about the music here. From the first note to the last, you are a slave to the riff, to power, and to the dirty, naked aggression that only death metal can provide. And, might I say, Abyssus do it very well indeed.
The Score of Much Metal: 85%
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