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Abysmal Grief : Misfortune

Abysmal Grief are most certainly the most exquisite impersonation of the ‘Horror Metal’ genre in a long time.

Let’s be honest. Italy has never been the prominent player in Extreme Metal and probably will never be. Compared to countries like Germany or Sweden or even France with the 'sudden' popularity of its Black Metal scene, Italy looks as if it were always the outsider, like a walk-on actor. And spare me the few Italian Death Metal or Black Metal bands the country has produced... it still won't add up. On the other hand, there is a niche market in Metal for which Italy has always been a solid contender: the so-called ‘Horror Metal’.

This most likely dates back to the early 70s, when lovers of the ‘occult’ discovered the Messe Noire anthems of Jacula or the progressive horror-spacey Rock of Argento’s protégés, Goblin. And somehow the tradition persisted with various acts and most notably with Paul Chain’s Death SS, Mortuary Drape or the likes of Blood Thirsty Demons. The genre, if it may be called a genre of its own, has spread to all main movements of Metal, Black Metal (Denial Of God), Death Metal (Necrophagia) and obviously to Doom Metal. While most see only grotesque and grand-guignol theatrics, others indulge in the creepy atmospheres and the outdated gimmicks just like fans of B/Z horror movies do in their own regard.

Abysmal Grief is most certainly the latest and most exquisite impersonation of the genre in a long time. The band formed in 1995 but only started to get some 'international' recognition with their eponymous début back in 2007, which was later followed by a split EP with fellow genre champions, Denial Of God. Still, even though the album gathered some pretty nice reviews, the confidentiality of such music prevented the band from getting a well-deserved exposure. Now, with Misfortune, technically released in 2009 but only available on CD since 2010, we could only hope that Abysmal Grief set the record straight.

Their début featured a mixture of Traditional Doom Metal laden with Heavy Metal riffing and cheap (not in the pejorative way) gothic synths that were very much reminiscent of Jacula’s own treatment of keyboards, though adding some groovy boneyard touches as if you’d embark on some lugubrious merry-go-round, and although they have retained this sound on Misfortune, the band has somehow concentrated more on the music than on the atmospheres. Most of the pseudo-gothic macabre interludes, except for The Arrival of the Worm, found in their début, have been left aside and now only the very music of Abysmal Grief remains, music which also notably picked up in pace. At first, this seems a bit of a deception, but then again the quality of the tracks make up for the lost atmospheres and will most likely draw a bigger number of listeners allergic to black masses samples and other rainy thunderstorm moods.

No need to draw pentagrams on the floor, no need to wear cassocks with inverted crosses, the voyage to occultism prepared for you by the Transalpine band makes up for all the fake gimmicks. They indeed are the real deal! Watch a few Hammer movies before you immerse yourself in full mysticism, open your mind a bit and allow the magic of Abysmal Grief to penetrate you. A fantastic record made by a fantastic band.

Reviewer's rating: Unrated


Tracklist :
1. Ignis Fatuus
2. Cadaver Devotion
3. Crypt of Horror
4. The Arrival of the Worm
5. The Knells Accurse
6. Resurrecturis

Duration : Approx. 48 minutes

Visit the Abysmal Grief bandpage.

Reviewed on 2011-01-12 by Frédéric Cerfvol
Thermal Mass
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