Album: Beneath Ancient Portals
Label: Blood Harvest Records
Genre: Death/Doom Metal
Release Date: 11 May, 2018
Abythic; the name brings with it a sense of heavy darkness and doom, the ghastly detailed cover only helps to reinforce that atmosphere. Luckily, the album delivers on those expectations in a spectacular fashion. Beneath Ancient Portals is the debut full length from Abythic, following their 2015 EP A Full Negation of Existence. Abythic have delivered on the macabre promises left behind by their EP with a healthy dash of doom thrown into the mix.
The album begins with a cavernous instrumental intro-track, Prelude to Obscurity, that does a phenomenal job of setting the stage for the album to perform on. You can immediately feel the darkness and the evil dripping from the tone of the guitars. There is a heavy weight behind the production that you can feel enveloping you as the song continues. The thick bass is very present and vital in Abythic’s sound. You can feel the wobble from the strings so heavily that it makes you wonder how they hang on to the guitar itself. The song ends with two almost anghellic guitar solos. The dichotomy between the rhythm section’s dark evil tone and the lead’s absolving sound is very engrossing and well-executed.
The first song with vocals involved that I’d like to highlight is track three, Abandoned Tombs on Ungodly Ground. The song begins with a crushing tremolo picked guitar riff that is supported by a heavy hitting double-bass drum section. An inhuman creation then roars into the microphone to grab your attention before diving headfirst into the “Abandoned Tombs”. Midway through the track, Abythic slows the tempo down and brings the bass to the forefront of the music. This bass scale section is my favorite part of this entire album. It was such an unexpected moment in the song that really captivated me on first listen and still is the moment I look forward to most on every listen. This section continues through while the vocalist bellows “Chaos will reign! The Earth will be purified!” so if you were worried about the intensity being lost, worry no longer. I’m very willing to say this track is one of my top ten songs released this year. Abythic has a very keen ear for melody without sacrificing the sheer weight of the atmosphere they produce.
Track six, T.H.O.N. (Still unsure about the meaning of this acronym unfortunately), is a unbelievably heavy track, even by Abythic standards. The riffs are slow, plodding and downright vile in their tone. Between the guitars, bass and vocals this becomes an extremely large and cavernous track. Unfortunately this atmosphere that Abythic has created on this song also leads to one of my main drawbacks from the record. The drums on this track don’t sound full enough to me. The space left in between the riffs and the vocals are filled with the drum track, however there is still a palpable void that is left in the wake of the drums and it leaves the song with a hollow feel. Throughout this album I felt that the drums had a satisfactory punch for the most part, but on T.H.O.N. they left me feeling unsatisfied. Overall though, this track is still an abysmal monster that will crush you under its feet
This album really didn’t have a lot of low points for me, minus the thin drums on one of the thickest tracks. My main gripe with Beneath Ancient Portals was that the last song doesn’t feel like the strongest track to close out the album with. Other than the ambient outro, it didn’t feel like a finale at all. It was a solid track that would’ve fit perfectly somewhere in the center of the album, but as a bookend it fell a little flat for me. I’m a sucker for a strong closer, because it can inspire me to hit repeat and put myself right back into the fire.
As I’ve mentioned in the past, debut albums can be real tricky. Composition, production, originality are all common problems that bands can run into on their debut album. Abythic was able to side-step these issues almost entirely on Beneath Ancient Portals. I truly believe that with this release Abythic have cemented themselves as the number one contender for Hooded Menace’s death/doom championship. At 40 minutes the album doesn’t overstay its welcome, but they also don’t leave you feeling unfulfilled. These demented souls from Germany have grabbed my attention, gained my respect, and earned themselves a new fan. I highly encourage you all to give them a try.
1. Prelude to Obscurity
2. Purulent Phantasm
3. Abandoned Tombs on Ungodly Ground
4. Beneath Ancient Portals (The Gate of Ganzir)
5. Redemption Through Soul Transfusi
7. Afterwards Behind Beyond
8. Depths of Oblivion
Total Playing Time: 40:37