Italian avant noise/doom duo OvO return with a brand new album through Supernatural Cat, yet again challenging the status quo as to what ‘heavy’ music should sound like. Feedback drenched, bass heavy and discordant, all the while not conforming to any set genre, their challenging and confrontational sound is at times abrasive, sometimes dark and creepy and at others, just downright groovy as fuck.
Starting life as an improv band, this experimentalist idealism certainly shines through the entire album (if you have been privy to any earlier works, this won’t come as any surprise at all) – however with ‘Abisso’ there is a superb coherency to the album as a whole, this is not some mess of ideas hastily jumbled together in the hope of being ‘extreme’ for its own sake, there is definite intention here and the result is a phenomenal body of work which has received considerable rotation in my household (usually to the wails of ‘what the hell is this?!’ – nothing new there then…).
As the record starts, opener ‘Harmonia Microcosmica’ slowly shimmers into life, beautifully in fact, instantly throwing you off guard when the drums drop and the strangulated vocals screech and wail as if in pain, the faint hum of electronic feedback clawing its way in from the periphery before the heavy bass and guitar drops to what is a monumental opener to say the least. Heavy, Groovy and out there, this vibe does not let up with the track ‘Tokoloshi’ with its insane use of noise and guitar scratching akin to the playing style you will know from the likes of Agata of Melt Banana fame, that stop/start sound which is both intense and infectious, the bizarre over the top vocals don’t seem out of place at all in the context of the disjointed, other-worldly rhythm that the track is encased within. Leaving you no time to breathe the absolute rager of a track ‘I Cannibali’ hits you like a steam train to the face, a short track at just over two minutes in length, this was an instant hit and had me leaping round the room like a hyperactive teenager, there’s something about it which just grabs you by the balls and throws you around like a rag doll, insanely good. Merging seamlessly, everything drops down to a single repeated, dream like phrase and the instantly recognizable vocals of Alan Dubin (Khanate, O.L.D) come to the fore on the track ‘A Dream Without a Dream’ – sounding very similar in style to Khanate itself, the insane wailings build to a cacophony of maddening depth and singularity, intense and without remorse, the track sounds like some kind of hallucinatory nightmare, albeit a gloriously enjoyable bad trip.
Tribal drumming announces the onset of ‘Aenis’, which quickly gives way to various clangs and rhythmical yelps and screams with huge droning bass as the backbone of the whole thing, lending the entire track an undeniable weight and groove. The breadth of influences so far in the record alone is ridiculous, from doom/drone leanings to noise, punk and beyond, the meshing of styles creates such a glorious musical tapestry which you just can’t help but become entranced with. This is certainly true of the epic track ‘Harmonia Macrocosmica’ (Harmonic Microcosm?) which literally propels you into the void at the behest of OvO, spinning through space and time, carried upon wave after wave of sub bass and terrifying vocal chants, layered with grinding guitars and more disjointed, yet minimalistic, tribal rhythms – glorious.
The title track ‘Abisso’ finds a kinship with harsh noise, layering vocal samples, scathing, delusional screams, building things in intensity to a cacophony of overwhelming sonic abuse, before dropping into the insane pummelling of ‘Pandemonio’, a very apt track title if ever there was one, pretty much summing up the total sound of musical armageddon. ‘Ab Uno’ traverses what could be described as more traditional doom/stoner territory, calming down the storm prior to the remarkable and completely mesmerising track ‘Fly Little Demon’ featuring fellow experimental natives Evangelista. Dropping the tempo considerably, the mellow vibes offer up a welcome respite from the mental onslaught that came before, soothing vocals lull you into a hypnotic state, repeated musical phrases only increasing ever so slightly as the track progresses. ‘Fame’ ends the record with no subtlety whatsoever, as if afloat in the flames of hell itself amongst tortured repeating and maddening screams that repeat over and over as the album fades to black…
The album left me feeling elated, if not a little mentally exhausted after processing the myriad of influence and off kilter rhythms, but at the same time with a huge grin plastered over my face. This album see’s OvO reach maturity and even though the vibe IS so strange and out-there, the way in which they manage to inject such infectious enthusiasm into the mix pretty much ensures there will be a legion of new recruits rallying to their cause. For me though this is without a doubt album of the year so far. Get it, get it now!
Scribed by: Todd Robinson