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Abske Fides : Abske Fides

the debut full-length of Abske Fides shows some considerable talent and promise.

Hailing from São Paulo, Brazil, Abske Fides (from the Latin absque fides, "Without Faith") have been around for nearly a decade, despite a release catalogue comprising just one demo and two EPs. The first was a 2006 CDR with French label Ostra, the second released in 2009 through now-defunct Beneath The Fog records, so there are some excuses for being blissfully unaware of the band's existence until now. Which would be something of a pity, because this full-length debut shows some considerable talent and promise: as endorsed by the ever-expanding Solitude Productions, who have picked up this release.

Where earlier works were described as Death/Doom with Black and Funeral influences, 'Abske Fides' the album has moved on into more Post-Rock-inspired territory. That isn't always a good thing, but it works just fine here, perhaps partly due to the unconventional band line-up – where musical duties are split between K. (drum, bass, vox), Nihil (guitar) and Necrophelinthron (guitar, keys, violin and unwieldy noms-de-plume) – which itself demonstrates a certain awareness of possibilities outside the normal constraints of instrumental arrangement.

As befits a band that have been together a fair while, the musicians work smoothly and well together, cooperating in an often sparsely-furnished yet balanced soundscape that puts the guitars firmly front and centre of the action. Which is, in all honesty, exactly where they belong, laying down everything from crunching, distortion-saturated riffs to spacy, echoing, jangling solos. That same wide range is carried through to the vocals, which run from gruff growls to distorted shrieks, from whispers to clean singing. Violin and keyboards feature further down in the mix, along with the percussion: all of them carry their own strengths and add depth to the sound, but never really get to own any of the musical drive.

The overall result is genuinely interesting, not least in fitting several quite disparate ideas into a single album and still making it sound like a coherent whole. To my mind, it falters a little in elaborating those ideas by the end, but that might be my own bias showing. I'm not really a great fan of spoken-word movie samples over a backing track: they usually come across as either pretentious or disposable (I'd exempt such things as Theatre Of Tragedy's 'When He Falleth', or much of Pink Floyd's 'The Wall, both of which carry their pretentiousness with pride). So it is with album closer 'Embroided In Reflections', with lengthy mutterings from JG Ballard's sex=violence-themed 'The Atrocity Exhibition' spoiling what would otherwise have been an atmospheric Explosions In The Sky-style instrumental.

Before getting to that, though, there are some real gems to be found. 'The Consequence Of The Other' sets things off with a bang: mixing heavy, crashing riffs with some nice violin and frantic vocal pieces. 'Won't You Come', after a brief sample from cult movie 'Stay', bridges from Doom riffing to Post-Rock textural atmosphere and a hectic climax. Stand-out track 'The Coldness Of Progress' starts out sounding like a latterday Anathema (or earlier Pink Floyd, for older folks) melodic guitar piece, then mixes in crunching riffs and some knifing solos. 'Aesthetic Hallucination Of Reality' is a heavy, pacy, hoarsely-vocalled piece that moves on to explore some Godspeed You! Black Emperor hypnotically slow-burning territory. The penultimate '4.48' starts and finishes convincingly, with distorted, bassy riffing and plenty of passion but unfortunately chooses to link the two with some rather meandering semi-acoustic guitarwork that serves very little apparent purpose.

As can perhaps be gleaned from the track breakdown, these are all fairly long pieces - ranging from 71/2 minutes to just over 11 – and each is a microcosmic reflection of the album itself, in its mixing and exploring of cross-genre techniques over a core of Death/Doom. When it works – which is most of the time – it's a powerful and intelligent combination with a lot of potential to develop further. When it doesn't quite gel, it's as a result of trying to include just a little too much rather than any grievous failing of craftsmanship – and that, at least, shows a commendable degree of musical ambition. It's probably fair comparison to put Abske Fides in similar vein to Mar De Grises, but bleaker, colder and with more melodic/atmospheric experimentation.

I did wonder at some length whether to give this an unqualified or a slightly guarded recommendation, but finally opted for the latter: not an essential immediate purchase for everyone, but definitely different and idiosyncratic enough to warrant a good listen.

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Reviewer's rating: 7.5/10


Tracklist :
1. The Consequence Of The Other
2. Won't You Come
3. The Coldness Of Progress
4. Aesthetic Hallucination Of Reality
5. 4.48
6. Embroided In Reflections

Duration : Approx. 51 minutes

Visit the Abske Fides bandpage.

Reviewed on 2012-06-23 by Mike Liassides
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