Abythic - Beneath Ancient Portals
Blood Harvest Records
Death Metal
8 songs (40:18)
Release year: 2018
Reviewed by Goat

One of the great curses of music reviewing is that sometimes you're faced with perfectly good albums that, because they're not great, not transcendental in some small way, you find yourself being excessively critical of. Death metal especially suffers from this, being a genre that's full of talent yet not half as full of original voices, meaning that a lot of it is very good but nothing particularly new or exciting. And thanks to the internet, we're faced with an absolute deluge of music making it all the harder to fish out the albums that push the genre onwards - not least because the reader won't always share this constant critical desire for something new, and will be happy to find some good music that they weren't previously aware of. Many artists deserve better than they're going to get from jaded writers who are in constant danger of burning out on the very thing they claim to love more than the average consumer (this isn't just a metal problem, after all) so a little reading-between-the-lines is sometimes required.

It's a perennial problem (I seem to write something similar every year or so) and Abythic, their promo being picked out from many others thanks to their interesting name and some nicely atmospheric cover artwork, are the latest in a line to fall foul. Playing a form of murky old-school death metal, all bassy rumble and unearthly growls, Beneath Ancient Portals is a great introduction to the band and a more than decent example of its genre... if you're not already overwhelmed with solid yet essentially unexciting death metal, that is. Each member of the band has experience with other bands and you can tell; the exact formula here is somewhere between the classic Swedish sound of Entombed and downright Asphyx worship, a real taste for the atmospheric that loves the slower pace of death-doom and the mental horrors it can summon in its audience.

The title track especially slows things down and dives deep beneath the cemetery earth in search of horrors to tell; elsewhere, the band are a little more upbeat and almost jaunty on Redemption Through Soul Transfusion, an infectious mix of guitar and bass riffs (the latter nicely audible throughout rather than the usual afterthought) keeping your foot tapping even through a doomy interlude. T.H.O.N has the most interesting title but least interesting contents, a slow trudge through mud and grime that the likes of Hail of Bullets made compelling with war themes and a sudden lurch into speed straight from the Celtic Frost playbook. The music has an innate power that isn't reduced by repetition, meaning that even though you'll have heard moments like the speedy churn of Afterwards Beyond Behind before they're still hugely effective. Indeed, most of the album delivers on the promise of its cover, and those looking for death metal in all its lumpy solidness will find it here. Don't expect to be blown away, though.

Killing Songs :
Redemption Through Soul Transfusion, Afterwards Beyond Behind
Goat quoted 70 / 100
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