Abyssic – High the Memory (Review)

abyssic - high the memoryThis is the second album from Norwegian symphonic death/doom band Abyssic.

Ever since listening to and loving the band’s debut album A Winter’s Tale that was released in 2016, I’ve been hungry for more Abyssic. Well, it’s finally here, and it’s a monster.

This album consists of five lengthy, epic tracks, with a full duration of 77 minutes. It’s colossal, orchestrally-fluent funeral death/doom, with some additional influences from progressive and black metal, (the latter being particularly noticeable on final cut Dreams Become Flesh). This is a decent starting point for Abyssic’s monolithic atmospheric approach.

Once again featuring orchestral flourishes from the talented André Aaslie, (Images at Twilight, Profane Burial), High the Memory swells and builds, ebbs and flows, and generally benefits greatly from his enhancements. Indeed, so entwined with the music are the symphonic aspects that to speak of Abyssic without them doesn’t really make much sense. When many bands use symphonic additions to their music they are just that, but with a few bands, (Abyssic being definitely one of them), these symphonic elements are such a firmly embedded part of the band’s core identity that it would be like removing any of the other instruments; it just wouldn’t be the same.

The songs are massive, in both scope and execution. They sound huge, and are filled with grandeur and dark intent. This is music with a geological sense of power, as if entire continents are grinding together to create new landscapes ripe for exploration and full of wonder. There’s nuance and subtlety here too though, and it’s clear that a lot of thought and care has gone into structuring and crafting these gargantuan tracks. This includes the small, delicate touches in the music, as well as the grand, sweeping arcs. It seems that everything has been carefully considered, and the songwriting skill of the band members is evident.

The end result is an album that’s incredibly compelling and absorbing, especially for one as long as this. The playing time seems to drip by at a suitably glacial pace, but it’s so engaging that you neither notice nor care. Abyssic have created an even more affecting, powerful, and enjoyable album than their debut, and High the Memory is an exemplar of cinematic doom.

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