AbissoBold claims and bold associations on behalf of this Sardinian duo courtesy of their label – happily namechecking such luminaries as Deathspell Omega and Lurker of Chalice immediately places expectations on overdrive for an assault of dissonant, atmospheric black metal embracing the very best elements of the chokingly dark, abstract approach spearheaded by such highly-regarded acts.

And to their credit, guitarist ‘G’ and vocalist ‘M’ (plus session member ‘D’ who bizarrely supplies the backbone instrumentation of bass, synths and drum programming) give it a decent go. The doleful distorted guitar chords that herald the start of ‘I’ have that suitably ‘Work That Transforms God’-era Blut aus Nord blend of inhuman mechanism and cold melancholy, beckoning forth a convincing album of void-dark metal. The vocals too are convincing – throaty, defined and cavernous.

There’s a whiff of classic early-90s Norway at point here and there on WRNSS also – there are some very Thorns-inspired riffs at the end of the opening track/start of ‘II’ whilst the sonorous lead motif that appears half way through this second track could almost be straight off of Manes’ debut. ‘D’s basswork meanwhile – session though it is – is winding and inventive, lending a real sinuous propulsion to the material.

With ‘III’ we are taken back to the Blut aus Nord template, the song kicking off very much in the same vein as the underrated ‘Desanctification’ record – again, mechanical, distant, cold, it’s a captivating start though the rather erratic blasting sections towards the end are perhaps a little awkward. This seems to carry on into ‘IV’ in which an attempt at frantic discordance – replete with winding lead guitar – falls rather flat on its face (though the track is salvaged by some cleaner, slower ambience).

If I’m honest, it’s at these faster, more jagged moments where Abisso’s limitations rear their head in a rather unfortunate fashion. It exposes the rather ‘bedroom’ nature of the recording with the guitar/drum sound in particular not being of the highest standard. All things considered however, these guys have done well here to distil a number of influences and when dishing out some slower, doomy darkness, they’re playing to their strengths. The closing track serves to underline their undoubted potential, keeping the pace controlled and spicing things up with haunting ambient breakdowns. They’re not yet up there with the benchmark-setters referenced in the PR spiel but there’s enough quality here to suggest that they’re closer than one might have originally suspected.

(7.5/10 Frank Allain)