Abhasa Amalgamate Ritualistic Dark Ambient And Bewildering Black Metal On ‘१’

Ritualistic forms of art have been around for centuries, providing people with an outlet for conveying their ceremonious rites. In music, it’s an all-out free form, and emotional channel that allows artists to express their craft freely and without restraint. Abhasa epitomizes this condition by combining metal, ambient textures and liturgical sentiment on the massively impressive album titled ‘१’. Showing huge amounts of restraint, Abhasa lets the music and atmosphere set the pace by creating the beautiful, emotional tone that will catapult the listener to an ethereal location – for at least the fifty minute duration of this album.

Holistic album opener, “१“, sets the spiritual tone as the hum of Tibetan bowls and ringing bells provide meaning and direction for this ceremonious journey. Field recordings of a natural setting amplify the experience. This vibe continues and seamlessly leads into “२”, which features more Tibetan bowl sounds, and the introduction of more modern instrumentation. Droning guitar riffs slowly crescendo their way into the mix, becoming louder and at their apex, the strums of distorted guitars make their presence known. After a few strums, it stops and after a short break, a beautiful acoustic passage begins, taking this track to new heights. As this track fades into “३”, the ambience slowly fades and gives way to a harsher, post-black metal sound. Interestingly, it has a very dreamy sound thanks to the ghostly production efforts. The next track, “४” starts with an acoustic riff that is quickly abandoned for a louder, more depressive tone. As this being one of the longer tracks, it gives the listener time to soak in the alluring guitar tone that’s equivalent to polarizing dark ambience. “५” begins with malevolent soundscapes and obscure field recordings that provide a sense of dread. The hiss of a guitar creates additional atmospheric tones as well. As the ambiguity fades, the sudden violent rush of distorted guitars introduce the next track, “६”. At just over twelve minutes, this saga runs through harsh metal parts, acoustic passages and ambient atmospheres while maintaining an even keel of emotional moments. The final track on the album, “७” blazes with discordant and blackened riffs, while the drums blast through like an assault weapon at a firing range. At around the half way mark, enticing keys create an exuberant atmosphere before the harsh tones pick up again. After a few minutes, the song finally fades to the sounds of the strums of an acoustic guitar.

The ritualistic sounds of Abhasa are undeniable, as they penetrate the ears and soul with emotional atmospheric music that border the genres of black metal and dark ambient. Now with the backing of the incredible Mystic Timbre label for a cassette release, this prodigious effort can be heard and enjoyed across multiple platforms. Click on the link below to download this ceremonious release!

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Links:

https://abhasa.bandcamp.com/

Moon And Azure Shadow Instill The Sounds Of Dungeon & Medieval Synth On Masterful Black Metal Overture.

Synthesized orchestrations have been infused with black metal for decades now, creating a sub-genre of technical and theatrical metal known as symphonic black metal. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that with the exception of a few bands, this sub-genre hasn’t really been my thing. However, after a renewed interest in dungeon synth and winter synth, I’ve come to appreciate the genre more than ever. That brings me to Moon And Azure Shadow, a one-man Black Metal project that mightily imbues the dungeon, winter, and medieval synth style into his unique brand of gothic infused black metal. The result is an incredible album of epic song lengths and robust symphonic pleasure known as ‘Age Of Darkness And Frost’. Consisting of three lengthy tracks that contain a hefty dose of black metal with a wide variety of other sounds, and four tracks of classical synth-style compositions, ‘Age Of Darkness And Frost’ is a surprisingly exceptional album that is sure to make a few “Top 10” list for 2019.

The breathtaking album opener, “Across Dark Landscapes” makes it grand entrance with an enormous symphonic auditory effect. There are so many imposing sounds on this track, it almost as if it could be used for an expeditious sequence in a movie. The cinematic quality is incredible and hearing this, I imagine a group of nomadic travelers, traversing a snowy mountain summit in search of a new place to secure as their home. As the climax of the music winds down, a beautiful piano melody can be heard, taking us to the end of this triumphant song. The next track – and first long track on the album – is the title track, “Age Of Darkness And Frost”. At almost nine minutes long, this wondrous endeavor features elements of medieval synth, gothic sounds, and very impressive symphonic black metal. Starting with another cinematic opening, it soon embraces the sound of a slow-tempo gothic anthem. The black metal-style vocals kick in and take this track to new heights. After a short melodic interlude, heavier & faster black metal rhythms take center stage and even include a section of blast beats over a canorous guitar and keyboard riff. The following track, “Black Winged Gates Of Destiny Descend” is another short respite between longer tracks but it’s no filler by any means. Theatrically, this song is monstrous and contains some chilling keyboard tones that are equally catchy. “Abyssic Lunar Tower” is the longest track on the album at seventeen and a half minutes long. The opening keyboard riff is like an addictive dirge that has a considerable sound and is soon joined by a sequenced drum beat that really sounds incredible. After a few minutes, an acoustic guitar plays a simple riff before an early-era Emperor-style Black metal riff unloads in the audial senses and makes this track even more pummeling. The riff at the six minute and twenty second mark is one of the best I’ve heard in many years and is one of the most brutal sounds on the album. At around the eleven minute mark, the song winds down to an eerie winter synth sound with a thunderstorm soundscape augmenting the ambient space in the background. A slower black metal riff soon takes over and plays out to the end of this majestic track. Next is “Through The Channelling Of Souls”, and with its medieval synth sound, provides a powerful statement with regards to the elements of nature and the darkness that conceives it. At almost eleven minutes long, “Unholy Vanquishing” begins with a ceremonious keyboard track, as if a group of warriors are preparing for a long battle in the icy cold north. Soon after, a gothic-like Black metal riff takes over and has a wonderful – but sorrowful – sound, like early Hecate Enthroned songs. This track also features some mighty voice narrations, adding yet another great element to this album. The last couple of minutes of this song is a great mix of slow-tempo black metal and dungeon synth and the vocals once again shine throughout. The final track, “Passage Through Time And Cold” features an excellent piano arrangement with some symphonic keys to add additional layers. The tone throughout this track is very melancholic and ghostly and is the perfect way to end such an amazing album. The last couple of minutes turns into an ambient soundscape with a scene of a snowy ridge and a traveler making his way to a nearby destination.

Listening to ‘Age Of Darkness And Frost’ has turned out to be such a pleasurable experience. Within a few months, I’ve gone from never hearing of Moon And Azure Shadow to including this album on my Top 10 metal albums of 2019. Even though this is a black metal album, there is enough medieval and dungeon/winter synth elements on it to be featured on The Dungeon In Deep Space site. Beside, there is a high possibility that if you’re even reading this, you’re a fan of both genres anyway. That being said, I highly recommend checking out ‘Age Of Darkness And Frost’ by clicking on the link below.

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Links:

https://moonandazureshadow.bandcamp.com/album/age-of-darkness-and-frost