Abyssgazer by AphoticRelease date: March 24, 2023
Label: Sentient Ruin Laboratories
Aphotic rise from the ashes of Italian death metal band Ekpyrosis, with members of both the defunct group and funeral doomsters Fuoco Fatuo combining forces. Conceptually, the most basic gist of debut album Abyssgazer deals with the death of our universe and from it the birth of stellar beings. There’s a seething, malign cosmos more of depth to it and you can feel Aphotic’s sinister detail in every raging moment of glorious oppressive metal and under the deviant weight of their cruel and asphyxiating atmosphere. Aphotic’s sound grabs you in a cosmic chokehold and devours you with its fury.
Comprised of ex-Ekpyrosis members N. Gazer (current Fuoco Fatuo bassist) on vocals, guitars and synths, L. Zeit on bass and ghostly calls from below and F. Abisme on drums with longtime Fuoco Fatuo guitarist K. Coil completing the line-up. Aphotic manifest all their talents from both bands in one explosive debut.
‘Spectral Degradation’ devastates off the bat with abyssal guitars spitting seething riffs alongside monstrous blastbeats. The track churns out further abominations, each taking their hideous shape, from chasmic drum blows and voices calling from the depths to ominous crawls through doom and gargantuan vocals ripped straight from the guts. ‘Cosmivore’ is a darker, more frightening beast, dragging you through a harrowing, nuanced journey of dissonance and extremity. Discordant, hook-filled riffage blazes under the crushing weight of bludgeoning blastbeats and even the space in between these fiery moments is undulating with darkness. The final 3rd tears open the skies and surrounds you in doom-laden stardust leading to a surprising outro of gorgeous, atmospheric solos.
‘Deathward and Beyond’ rages with hellfire and intensity, bombarding your skull with immense drums and serpentine riffs that coil around your throat, leaving you gasping for air. Old-school, groove-laden pounding breaks the flaming blast sections up before yanking you into the maelstrom once again. Title track ‘Abyssgazer’ and final track ‘Chasmous’ are the slowest on the album, using atmosphere as its crushing weaponry instead of balls-out death metal. The layered ‘Horizonless’ quakes like a cave-in and at its mid-pace still consumes you with its sharp bite, jarring guitars and ghastly howls. ‘Depths Call Depths’ is a whirlwind of vintage death metal with a particularly devouring blast inferno and tremolo assault midway.
Abyssgazer convulses with cavernous, abstract death metal, twisted around discordant, malefic riffage and cataclysmic drum blasts. It’s drenched in abyssal blackness, suffocating you with its claustrophobic, viscous darkness and spewing spiky tendrils of blackened chaos and interdimensional horror into your ears.
Each track is its own crawling entity enveloping everything in its path like an ever-growing black hole, billowing with horrifying intent, twitching with brutal madness and swirling with a deathly miasma. Tracks mostly stick to disintegrating metal with dense blastbeats and churning stringwork but Aphotic aren’t afraid to slow it down, pushing aside an all-out hammering in favour of bleaker expressiveness, instead utilising their funereal doom talents on tracks like ‘Abyssgazer’ and especially in ‘Chasmous’ to claw palpable dread into you with each lumbering abomination or rippling, atonal guitar strike.
Abyssgazer is a stunning debut from the Italian cosmological death dwellers. Big things are written in the stars.