Odd, but when I was given this to review I had to go away and check how many albums I have by Limbonic Art. Turns out I have the lot. Guess I must be a fan… Funny that. Anyway it’s been seven long years since mastermind Daemon unleashed a Limbonic Art album, but if you know the previous one Phantasmagoria you won’t be too unsettled by Spectre Abysm. From the turbulent and driven opener ‘Demonic Resurrection’ it is clear that Daemon’s quest to peel back the layers of the cosmic and symphonic sound that Limbonic Art became known for back in the mid-nineties to find the primordial black metal core of the sound. It’s dark, grim and has that traditional Norwegian orthodox sound.
This of course is not a bad thing. Limbonic Art have this wonderful turbulent sound, showcased superbly on ‘Omega Doom’ for example. Thundering bass drums and echoing lower register vocals billow out through the riff and the unhinged howls like storm-clouds and just swallow you up. Where once they might have had an eerie wash of keyboards there is the keening, sharp guitar melody. There is a moment at the end where, as we are left with just vocals and primitive keyboards, I am swept back to the early nineties which is curiously and delightfully evocative.
For the most part this is mid to fast paced black metal. Plenty of time changes shift the gears up and down to avoid being dragged down in the mud and, unlike lesser outfits, they definitely know the benefit of varying the vocals; the intermittent choral arrangements in ‘Triumph Of Sacrilege’ being a fine example of light and shade to the pretty relentless riff. ‘Disciplina Arcana’ has a long, sparse opening section that curiously reminds me of some of the more experimental neo-classical outfits of the early nineties and after a full tilt dive into vicious riffing we find ourselves in a bit of bleak keyboards and writhing, snarling voices. It’s a real jolt, but a great one that really opens up the flow. Epic closer ‘Through The Vast Profundity Obscure’ combines an early Emperor feel in the stormy riff and vocals with just the lightest nod back to Limbonic Art’s own cosmic birthing.
I’m not going to tell you this is some new kind of wheel or anything, but what I am saying is that if you want a fine and enthralling example of orthodox black metal with one eye on a simpler past and one on the exploration of what has always been the musical spirit then you could do a lot worse than Spectre Abysm.
Nice to see them so focused after seven years away. Well worth your attention.