Brought to us by the singer/guitarist of Svalbard, Wretched Abyss is a 42-minute Skyrim-themed album that takes some of the darker and melodic elements you can hear in Svalbard’s sound, and wraps them around a blackened core.
Yes, the music here is melodically rich black metal. It takes influence from the second wave style, while also strongly incorporating elements of blackgaze, depressive black metal, and post-black metal. Fans of bands such as Immortal, Enslaved, Windir, and Keep of Kalessin should pay attention.
The melodies are the central focus of Wretched Abyss in so many ways, propelling the music forward with colourful power and engaging memorability. There’s an epic feel to many of these melodies, and the album’s moods and atmospheres are crafted lovingly around this sort of theme. The music carries you away to far away lands, and you can almost imagine the adventuring taking place as you listen.
Aside from the omnipresent melodies, each track has something of its own to offer. This might be an acoustic interlude, a piece of post-blackened resplendent mood, a progressive metal riff, or a gorgeous synth highlight.
I like the vocals a lot; they’re high pitched screams performed in the classic style, and delivered on the low side of the mix, (which is a preference of mine for this sort of thing). The artist’s scratchy, near-static shrieks are perfectly-judged and are ideal for music of this nature. As she’s also a very capable clean singer, the album benefits infrequently from these too.
Highly melodic, with a textured atmospheric coating, Wretched Abyss is a top quality slice of black metal.
Very highly recommended.