Abyssal’s Novit Enim Dominus Qui Sunt Eius is simply one of the most crushing things I’ve heard all 2013. A death metal spire twisting in oceanic darkness both beautiful and grisly, a ruthless second barrage sprung from their no doubt unsettling and dense spell book.
This was originally a requested review back on Equivoke (much like their debut) but I just didn’t get around to writing on it. Very embarrassing considering how much I found myself enjoying it in 2013 into this year, its eerie weight never lifting from my mind.
And surely what Abyssal have constructed on this record is daunting to be conservative. From the shuddering, alien intro sound-scape to the combative and glorious ‘The Last King’ it’s a record you won’t turn away from. Murky, disorienting, asymmetrical, frightening all properly describe the spell-craft on display here.
What’s fascinating is how much maturity there has been between their first record Denoument, which was an aberrant if not a little unbalanced death metal gem that I did not give enough attention. And Novit Enim Dominus Qui Sunt Eius which is so very cohesive. Abyssal have tempered their sound and it has come out so powerful, and very hideous
Like the album’s title implies the lyrical nature is grand in scope dealing with metaphysical constructs and their malicious acts, apocalypse and oppressive acts. Not uncommon for this style but substantively when paired with everything else on this record they succeed in recreating and evoking fear in the face of immeasurable power.
The first song after the intro is ‘The Tongue of the Demagogue’ which inspires nightmare delusions through its discordant oneiromancy. The force of the drumming is flattening and the swirling riffs only offer a glimpse at how tormented they can sound. From a dark and hanging pause a chunky, dissonant eruption occurs in disfifgured riffs, boiling growls.
From this point things quickly crumble into a writhe and as this sustains ones hallucinations these contorted, ascending riffs rear their heads out of an impossible to remove darkness. They work these big bends more into the fray by the end of this monolith which is a slow corrosion into the next one.
‘Under the Wretched Sun of Hattin’, which approaches the same length as it’s predecessor, is immediately drenched in those warbled powerchords fading up. The sudden entry of the true start of the song is chilling, quite complex and tight, it’s these moments that really floor me between the slower expanding doom.
This intoxicating moment is left almost immediately for a slower, chunky tremolo crawl that extends into serious extrapolations on those warped moments by the midway point, again broken by a haunting and bleak segment.What it grows into by six minutes in is a heart stopping bludgeoning
Abyssal have the ability to make enormous statements in their sound not only in long songs but relatively short ones as well, ‘The Headless Serpent and ‘A Sheath of Deceit both show this trait. These two are my picks off this record next to ‘A Malthusian Epoch’ and despite being shorter the depth of their death conjuring in these tracks is consuming.
When it comes to ‘The Headless Serpent’ its faster than what you encounter later, the clamor as chords and drums collide in a blinding show of black, ferocious death metal. It just warps further and further, bright sparks occasionally flying from the churn. Barely a minute after it’s begun however an enlightening riff swoops in, degrading into a ghostly series of notes and then full force back into gear.
Somehow Abyssal here move the intensity easily wherever they wish, between slamming and atmosphere: the shit you hear at three minutes in is tight and mesmerizing. Grooves and barbs hide within every section of this tape.
‘A Sheath of Deceit’ is connected to ‘The Headless Serpent’, you could call it one track. The bewildering sonic discrepancy they whip up on the outset of ‘A Sheath of Deceit’ is the perfect step-up from an already rousing death metal cascade.
Swirling rhythms ebb into abrupt cacophony flashes — recurring to where the mid point is it’s most enticing due to the volume of rich textures. As this song is their most compressed the energy is at it’s most stimulating it seems, and at the last minute there’s a nefarious riff that is so cathartic. Lead from such a big squall beforehand it’s quite hefty. This song for me is their most triumphant effort.
Even in a more reserved sense when listening to the ‘Elegy’ interludes or the intro ‘Forbode’, the clearly sinister nature of the ambiance suggests it’s not just filler but warnings.
‘The Malthusian Epoch’ is another astonishing entry in this tome. The atmosphere is unyielding supported with a tribal percussion section. When things get turned up it’s like a screaming vortex with occasional batterings, later the furious power chords bring us to a bent bridge.
It just gets more tumultuous from there: the chunky slams are accompanied by a second insect-like tremolo riff that takes over as whispering unfolds, and the drums lay back for a moment. This transforms into what I have to say is the most hair raising Portal-esque riff since Seepia even in the bands own library. Melancholic, creeping, and inspiring.
If you’re not still soaking up that last shining example of death metal, ‘As Paupers Safeguard Magnates’ is next in line to greet you. The deceleration is a drifting one on the two final notes while feedback and martial drums work themselves back up. The riff fleshes itself out more being more angular on each pass.
This really tasty segment is buttressed by a towering blast of dissonance, heavily saturated in gloom. Approaching the three minute mark big thick sways enter to change the pace with not just slower tremolos but pounding as well. A curious clean section a minute later tails this and it is where the drums begin their charge.
Erupting again and again the clean spot is tarnished and buried by mounds of scratchy chaos, dipping lower into chasm. Again I notice at five minutes in a shrill structure before a tapping section expands into the last breath and that last breath is almost melodic or ethereal.
It’s almost like they’ve got a little Lykathea Aflame in them, or perhaps some parallel thinking with Bolzer. It’s also rare when I hear any kind of tapping in this kind of work and they used it well.
The longest song is the second to last: ‘Created Sick; Commanded To Be Well’. It’s largely instrumental and ritual-like being the most reserved track for sure which is a nice change. It reminds me of some of Mitochondrion’s earlier work.
This serpent employs venomous static and noise on the outset, gradually becoming more warped before the guitars make an entrance. The beat picks up on the snare rolls, and once those drop out and the kit is unleashed shit is pulsing hypnotically. It’s a slow snowball as a few chunks get tossed in and the key structure is stretched via harmonized tremolos.
It’s late when something a lot more interesting erupts from this ceremony, if simple. Huge thick slabs pierced by a dissonant chord begin repeating for the last few minutes, and they’re heavy as hell.
The last song is titled ‘The Last King’. A bit more blackened and atmospheric at first it reaches for ethereal before being pulled back down at only a minute and a half in. This is where those evil, spurious, twangy sections force themselves upon you.
I mentioned parrallel thinking with Bolzer and the section from three minutes and beyond begin to feel similar but with more US black metal influence. It makes for a gripping song, screeching chords and notes break into the light from an album rooted in darkness
And just as it’s soaring, a creepy drum-bass driven ‘jazzy’ section takes over, all the while the buzz of guitars permeates the background of both channels. Six minutes in the return of some normalcy through a series of uplifting riffs, the final one particularly shocking, that leave you with a lust for more.
The only answer is to cycle back and start this wicked record over
Novit Enim Dominus Qui Sunt Eius cannot be praised higher. While I was originally looking in the direction of Ulcerate, Portal, and Gorguts to sate my deepening lust for this corrupted kind of death metal, it was this U.K. three-piece’s sophomore effort that topped the year immediately.
Yawning and vast, dynamic but controlled with a more honed strike Abyssal warp the black and death metal canvas to new dimensions of terror I wasn’t ready for in 2013.
As you no doubt have noticed I managed to snag one of the few remaining copies of this unearthly album from Caligari Records (I think there’s still a few available) which was original produced by Exitium Productions. You can also get it on bandcamp in digital and CD form. Their first album is being pressed on vinyl soon so I imagine that’s in the works for this one too.