ABYSMAL GROWLS OF DESPAIR "Dark Days"
Abysmal Growls Of Despair are a French outfit by a guy called Hangsvart, who formed this project in 2013. Hangsvart is a rather active musician/ composer, for Abysmal Growls Of Despair have recorded several pieces in mean time, despite the young age of existence. But who am I to criticise this… I will not! Actually, this album was originally released on July 11th 2014 by the project itself, being done the digital way, and now mighty, mighty, mighty Satanath Records bring it out on CD too (once again in co-operation with some other labels). That’s great, because I wasn’t aware of the digitally released edition of this fabulous epos. Dark Days consists of eight compositions that last in between four and fifteen minutes, with a total running time of almost seventy minutes. And what this project brings is an extremely darkened, minimalistic and primal form of droning Funeral Doom. The album opens with the track Darkest Thought, which starts with a cold, minimal synth scape, before turning into an utterly freezing, ominous and asphyxiating piece of monumentally overwhelming Dark Doom, based on droning rhythms, razor-edgy guitar riffs, abyssal-deep grunts and eerie keyboard lines. And damn, immediately Stijn ‘S’ van Cauter comes to mind, the Belgian guy behind projects such as Until Death Overtakes Me or Beyond Black Void, amongst others. And believe me (or do not, but I do not care), this approach continues throughout the whole of the album. Okay, Abysmal Growls Of Despair aren’t just another project within this specific vein (actually, they are, but not the copy-cat alike trend), but one cannot ignore the comparable approach. Even the tranquil intermezzos, the abyssal growls (of despair) and ambient synth lines are very much in the vein of Stijn van Cauter’s main projects. In general, I guess there is some more variation in comparison to earlier releases, or to higher mentioned comparable acts by Mr. S. Pieces like Tormented Mind go further, much further, which isn’t but an honourable surplus! And at the same time, both ‘integrity’ and ‘introspection’ are not just hollow definitions, but both of them deeply penetrate the core of this project’s essence. I have always been a ‘fan’ of the guy I just mentioned above, being Mr. van Cauter, and there is no reason to dislike this material whatsoever. I adore Kinstrife & Blood, even though they are not the ‘true’ Summoning; I truly like Funereal Moon, despite my unlimited passion for Abruptum; etc… So, why wouldn’t I pay appreciation to this French act? The twenty minutes of bonus stuff too are within the very same atmosphere, and therefor highly addictive / attractive to fans of this specific trend. Abysmal Growls Of Despair dwell in a dimension that isn’t meant for the ‘average’ listener (or musician), but within their specific league, thy are winners! Consider it as a ‘me like’…
ABYSMAL GROWLS OF DESPAIR "Dark Days"
Our guest of honour on the review platform today is Abysmal Growls of Despair (AGOD) - a solo-driven French Funeral Doom Metal outfit that is commandeered by an individual named Hangsvart. Considering that the band is still relatively in its early years of operation (formed in 2013), they have nevertheless managed to put out a fairly impressive number of releases. "Dark Days" marks the bands second full-length release and after having spent the last couple of weeks qualitatively with this album, I enthusiastically look forward to checking out the remaining spread of their doom-laden offerings. I found the breadth of their work in "Dark Days" to be quite intriguing. In as such, I ascertained AGOD to be above and away from the swamp of mediocrity and stylistic conformity evident amongst its peers - especially pertinent with the apparent explosion of "bedroom bands" that have over-saturated the doom marketplace in recent years. Music aside, a quick visit to the bands Bandcamp page will also reveal the equal measure of value they place on their visual artwork and imagery, the combination of which insinuates a band that has devoted considerable energy and thought into developing a thematic consistency across its expansive discography. This may be bad practice, but I do observe myself harbouring pre-conceived assumptions of what to expect with a new album - particularly when it comes to Funeral Doom; and as such, this expectation generally consists of being on the receiving end of an onslaught of crushing riffage at sluggish-ridden tempos that brings one right down to a point of absolute despair and hopelessness. Indeed, AGOD certainly delivers in this regard - however, interestingly, this does not seem to be their primary prerogative. Although the album honours the constituents of the ‘dark’ (i.e anguish, burden, loneliness etc.), it simultaneously offers a "ray of light" in the form of of hope, harmony and connection. This apparent nature of dualism pervades the full breadth of "Dark Days" and carves out an interesting trail for the willing listener to embark upon. Admittedly, my preliminary response to the album was a divided one. The album kicks off on a strong note with "Darkest Thought", a track that serves as a good representation of what is to come. It then slips into "Tormented Mind" which, unlike the opening track, I found to be a little positively-ethereal for my personal taste. However, it is upon descending into the third track, "Vision", that all conscious judgement and mental self-talk was completely washed away and true musical communion took place. Possibly my favourite track on the album, "Vision" brilliantly combines heavy-droning guitars and intelligent leadwork. This proved to be an all-consuming experience, the effect of which I found very inspirational considering the rather minimalistic nature of the instrumentation and structure employed. The remaining tracks on the album follow a generally similar narrative, one that patiently pulls the listener into AGODs inner haven of comfortable darkness and solitude. The band also generously offers a couple of bonus tracks on the album, and it is especially noteworthy to mention that the bonus tracks consist of a much heavier nature in contrast to the more melodic makeup of the main tracklist. I would recommend "Shape of Depth", a heavy, brooding drone-like piece backed up by sparse yet effectively-intense drumming. Hangsvart displays a high level of musicianship and intelligence with his formidable yet humble display of control over his instruments, from the guitarwork and rhythmic elements to keyboards/synth layering. Of particular mention would be the instrumental arrangement on the album, particularly with key reference to the drums. As opposed to the conventional practice of employing standard drum pattern signatures (generally comprised of hi-hats, kick and snare at 4/4 time or equivalent), the band instead employs a more tribal approach to its drums with particular emphasis placed on tom-laden sequences. In combination with the droning guitars, keyboard sequences and ethereal atmospheres, the tribal rhythms bring about a very different interpretation of the music. As such, it induces a much higher level of intensity and feelings of suspension rather than the comfort of trailing a pre-defined, predictable drum sequence. These little nuances ultimately contribute to a very effective structural harmony amongst the different instrumental elements, whilst at times, creating an almost nerve-wrecking atmosphere. The raw production qualities do well in complementing the bands sound, however there is certainly room for improvement in this area. The combination of relatively "thin" guitars, submerged drums and obtrusively-awkward entrances of harsh vocals do make things feel a little disconnected at certain points. "Dark Days" turned out to be a thoroughly engaging listening experience for me, one that was filled with equal proportions of beauty and brutality. If I was to sum up the album in a single sentence, it would be this: "Dark Days" serves to be a sonically delectable canvas that encourages the willing doom-voyager to explore the forest of his or her own mind. Do jump onto their Bandcamp page, support their work, and drop the band a kind word or two of appreciation.
ABYSMAL GROWLS OF DESPAIR "Dark Days"
Abysmal Growls Of Despair are a 1 man band that has been featured before in this zine and plays a very atmospheric form of funeral doom metal with elements of drone and this recording and this is a review of his 2014 album "Dark Days" which was released as a joint effort between Le Crepuscule du Soir Productions and Satanath Records. A very dark and atmospheric synth sound starts off the album which also brings in elements of ambient and after a couple of minutes a more heavy funeral doom metal sound is mixed in with the more atmospheric side of the recording along with some deep guttural death metal growls and most of the tracks are very long and epic in length. At times spoken word parts can be heard in certain sections of the recording and also they give the music more of a ritualistic feeling and some of the alter tracks also bring in small amounts of clean playing and all of the songs stick to either a slow, heavy dark and atmospheric sound and on the bonus tracks the bass guitars start adding in more of a very powerful sounding presence while on a later song a small amount of violins are added onto the recording. On this album Abysmal Growls Of Despair go for more of a straight forward and atmospheric approach to funeral doom metal than what was presented on later recordings, the production sounds for dark and heavy while the lyrics cover despair themes. In my opinion this is another great sounding recording from Abysmal Growls Of Despair and if you are a fan of funeral doom, you should enjoy this album. RECOMMENDED TRACKS INCLUDE "Darkest Thought" "Solitude" and "Lost Dreams". 8 out of 10.
ABYSMAL GROWLS OF DESPAIR "Dark Days"
I don not know if the projects acronym is deliberately designed to spell “A-GOD” as some sort of symbolism or an inside joke or not, but either way Dark Days is not joking and it is not funny at all. It deals with desperation, hopelessness and misery through fine musicianship and it is much skillfully produced, comprised of funeral dirges, grieving doom-death metal, even imposing spoken word parts that give the overall experience an almost ceremonial feel. The nightmarish atmosphere of Dark Days is well established under the atmospheric synths, the neo-classical and ambient parts, the heavily distorted and painfully slow guitar riffs, the mournful growls and its proportions in length, as most of the tracks are really lengthy, up to more than 14 minutes long. For what it is worth, Dark Days whetted my appetite for some well crafted funeral doom and got me eager to check out AGODs other releases, with much enticing titles like Lovecraftian Drone, Nothing More Humane, etc.
ABYSMAL GROWLS OF DESPAIR "Worst Putrid Tongue"
...And once again a band that is run by just one person. Hangsvart is a French nationality and he is making all music, lyrics and recording stuff for this project. I have an album with four long songs to review and I would like to share my opinion about it with you. What I am dealing with here is a very obscure funeral doom metal. That means you get only slowest songs on Earth with ridiculously down tuned growl vocals which are like the voice from beyond the grave. Guitars and drums are unbelievably primitive but giving a climax of complete despair and hopelessness. Keyboard nicely fits in songs and brings a somber feeling of deep sadness and misery. All tracks are basic and you can find a real meaning of playing really slow here. I can not find anything emotionally positive in this music. Worst Putrid Tongue just crucifies everything that carrier the light in your mind and leaves nothing but shadows and your world in total eclipse. Funeral doom metal is one of a kind genre. I like what Hangsvart composed here all by himself but I just can not stand his amateur production so guitars and everything else sounds like shitty result of poor programming environment or rehearsal record. I guess, support the band so he can record his new tunes in pro-studio and why not to make this vital step...
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