Alex Poole is one busy chap. I’ve only recently reviewed his second Skaphe album and still not entirely recovered from it and now this turns up. He’s also busy with Esoterica, Krieg and Lithotome too so there is no shortage of material from him and with Krieg playing a lot of late in the US, he must have to juggle a lot to get everything done. Perhaps he has found it all a bit much and as with Skaphe who he roped in Misþyrming’s D.G. to provide vocals on he has also decided to enlist Eric Baker of Manatheren for throat slinging duties here too. It’s certainly nothing to do with lack of talent in the department himself though, as a comparison listen to the last Chaos Moon album ‘Resurrection Extract’ has proved. His blood curdling yells are up there with the best and that includes Krieg’s Jameson.
It would appear that Amissum was originally released independently as an EP last September but has been expanded now with a couple of extra tracks and put out as a full-length via Polish label Hellthrasher. Hopefully this will find it a wider audience too as like the last album it’s well worth discovering.
The title track hammers in with everything thick, dense and layered. The guitars whiplash away and drums thud before it slows a bit and gets its groove on. Vocals follow coating it all with an ugly gruffness. They seem higher in the mix than the last album and are suitably coarse and snarly matching the punishing pace and volatile nature of the bruising music. Breaking it all down into a particularly bleak, slow and mournful passage, atmosphere is raised tenfold and the depressive strains soak through you before the necrotic vocals rear up and bite in again and the track gradually takes off once more. From a punishing start which has instantly caught attention things move toward the three piece ‘Resurrection’ something this project knows all about having been laid to rest itself the once before life was breathed into it once more. Slowly in, swirling like fog with a vampire vocally looming out of it this is one revival that is hellish and dreadful as it raises the hackles up. Naturally with it comes a feel of vibrancy and beauty even, a blood curdling shriek is something of wonder when delivered so horrifically and the underlying melody is crepuscular and as nightmarish as any a tortured vision you could imagine. Lurking solidly in the depressive and suicidal spectrum of things this really hits the mark but it does finish a bit too abruptly leaving me a little disorientated. As mentioned on the last album I found some of it of a ‘post black’ nature and the second Resurrection has that glistening, sharp and hypnotic guitar weave about it a bit too. Vocals are raging going to lycanthropic howls with it though presenting two distinct and conflicting paths; it’s kind of both ‘nice’ and ‘bestial.’ Part 3 is added on from the original release but fits in very well. Slow and ponderous and dragging you right into its despairing depths, the vocal shrieks become all the more demented giving you the feeling that the painful rebirth has led straight to bedlam and incarceration, locking up a diseased mind into oblivion and darkness (I may have been watching Penny Dreadful too much lately though)
After that epic triptych a couple of tracks remain and To Transcend The Spine has a Xasthur etched feel to it with the heavy bass work and the maudlin tones which is something I have thought a couple of times listening to the album as a whole. There is a patch of very unexpected and sorrowful sounding clean singing here which really catches off guard and adds new dimensions to the sound. ‘Illusions Of Dusk And Dawn’ brings the night heavily in with a thundering and frantic pace and the fastest segment of the album battering away like nails being driven into a coffin before it’s too late. Bloody snarls and some cold doomy riffs prove that it most definitely is and the album concludes in dramatic fashion. If you are looking for black metal that is like the soundtrack to a particularly vile horror book this will serve you particularly well and get your imagination running riot with it. Amissum practically reeks of the tomb and stinks of the dead, it’s sea of darkness is all consuming!
(8/10 Pete Woods)