There really is nothing like a good death metal album. Nothing beats the sonic slap to the face, the proverbial bucket of cold water to wake you from the musical coma that you can inherit from others like a virus. However like all metal genres though the history of death metal is littered with highs and lows, littered with classics and pretenders to the throne. Make no mistake however that when we look back on this year we will look at the debut full-length album from Toronto’s Abyss as a potential high-water mark in the realm of all things death metal.
It’s extremely hard to discuss death metal these days without relating it back to geographical locations. Sweden, the U.K., Germany, Brazil, the U.S. (and break it down further into New York, Florida, etc.) along with a handful of other locales are now synonymous with various styles of death metal. But how do you classify a band that hails from a country or region not associated with a certain style? First and foremost, it’s a refreshing premise for anyone listening in for the first time. Gone are the stereotypes that certain bands still feel the need to cling to because of some sort of zip code affiliation. Canada has had their fair share of death metal success throughout the years – Cryptopsy, Kataklysm, Gorguts, Martyr, Neuraxis, and of course genre pioneers Slaughter (NOT the shitty hair metal band obviously), among others have all had varying degrees of influence in the scene. The ironic thing about Canadian death metal – it’s defined by often times not having a cohesive “genre sound.” Having this predisposed inclination to not bother with some sort of geographical tie, Abyss have exploded out of the relatively peaceful confines of Toronto, Canada with an album in hand wrought from the same metal that the great godfathers of the genre built their blades upon. This isn’t just a ‘throwback’ album though. No, this is a full on return to the bestial roots of the genre, dug by hand in the black of night.
Heretical Anatomy is eight tracks of absolutely blistering death metal at its finest. There are hints of old UK and German death metal dealings, complete with the same nihilistic guitar tone and dominating riffs that bands like Bolt Thrower and Dismember made their bread and butter. There are nods to old school death metal acts from all over the U.S. and add in an almost punk-like aesthetic to certain tracks, such as “Chained To Extinction,” and this is an album even the crustiest of punks can get into a pit for. Though the influences run far and wide, in true Canadian fashion it’s nearly impossible to simply nail this album down with a couple quick-hit references. Where Abyss succeed is not only in hearkening back to the great masters of death metal but also potentially showing other acts the path in which to follow them.
To say this is a nasty record is an understatement. This album is a dump truck full of dynamite, with the brakes cleanly cut and careening downhill at a nuclear reactor. It’s a fantastically horrific affair and completely unrelenting from note one to the final crashing down of it all. If they handed out awards for longest sustained moment of mosh pit inducing sounds this album would walk away the winner hands down. Heretical Anatomy is due out on April 14 via 20 Buck Spin. You can experience the tracks “The Atonement” and “Prophecies of Churning Horror” at the 20 Buck Spin Bandcamp page.