Loathe as I am to use the description, I really cannot think of a better example of ‘Blackened Doom’ than Abysmal Darkening. Rather than being a Black Metal band with slow bits, or a Doom Metal band with corpse-shrieking vocals, what Abysmal Darkening play is an almost perfect atmospheric synthesis of BOTH genres. The band themselves refer to it as ‘Darkened Doom’, which makes sense too. Here we have the downtempo riffing and cavernous spaciousness of Doom Metal in perfect harmony with the buzzing, droning guitars, icy coldness and harsh, dry throaty shrieking rasp of Black Metal, and it really is a match made south of heaven.
One thing that Doom and BM have in common is their love of the ‘epic’, the grandiose, and that is perfectly articulated in ‘No Light Behind…’. There is a definite sense of grandeur to Abysmal Darkening’s sound – those huge, open-sounding riffs, such as on opener ‘Behold The Gods’ and closer ‘Marian’, the tolling bells of ‘A New Dawn’, and the harmonies of ‘Endless March Of The Dead’, add a sense of scope and depth to the bands sound, working in tandem with the clear, spacious production that allows us to hear every nuance of the music.
The icy cold of deep, dark space shrouds the entirety of ‘No Light Behind…’, letting no chink of light penetrate the void herein. Even intermittent upbeat moments are swathed in a grim miasma, such as the sudden lurch into BM-style drumming over the lurching ‘Burning Witch-on-45’ riff that winds its way through ‘Behold The Gods’ and fierce pounding and freezing guitar-swarm at the end of ‘A New Dawn’ and ‘Words of Doom’. These moments offer no warmth, despite the energy being expended by the band.
The influence of the more tar-black moments of Saint Vitus runs deep throughout the entire recording. Something in the uncomplicated nature of the riffing, the massive abysses of hanging silence between chords and that swarming, buzzing guitar sound totally evokes the spirit of Chandler and co. Closing track ‘Marian’ has a main riff that is incredibly reminiscent of the Vitus classic ‘Born Too Late’, albeit one laced through with chilling screams and mid-tempo BM thumping, and ‘De Zomer Is Dood’ is also flavoured with a fair scoop of the Saint.
Standout track, for me, would have to be ‘Words Of Doom’, due to the slightly ‘off’ guitar harmonies that make the flesh creep, and the general feel of relentless misery engendered by its cold, blasted wastes.
Abysmal Darkening are about as appropriately named as any band around, perfectly reflecting the depth and lack of light within their music, yet they manage to squeeze enough shade into their musical vision that it does not come close to being one-dimensional. They really have managed to bring out the best of both worlds, Doom AND Black Metal co-existing in harmony within their sound. ‘No Light Behind…’ is a solid, unpretentious and immensely listenable dark-hearted little jewel.
Scribed by: Paul Robertson