An Abstract Illusion – Woe (Review)

An Abstract Illusion - WoeThis is the second album from Swedish atmospheric death metal band An Abstract Illusion.

An Abstract Illusion play an electronically enriched form of atmospheric death metal, replete with black and progressive metal elements. Woe is a 60-minute journey into the band’s accomplished realm.

If you throw together parts of bands such as Black Crown Initiate, Dessiderium, Emperor, Iapetus, Insomnium, Ne Obliviscaris, Opeth, and Wilderun, you’ll have a rough starting point for An Abstract Illusion’s world.

Each of the songs on this album is well-written and well-crafted, and that’s putting it mildly. Envisioned as essentially one continuous 60-minute piece, the tracks all bleed into the next with a fluidity that’s seamless.

An Abstract Illusion combine their influences into creative expressions of musical extremity, ranging from progressive resplendence to pure deathly brutality. Between these end points lie a variety of different takes on heavy music, all underpinned by a vision of eloquent death metal that is expanded by blackened, symphonic, and progressive ingredients.

Progressive flourishes are well-deployed, and the band have a keen set of melodic skills. The music can be exploratory and quite beautiful when it needs to be, but the band always bring it back to the core of heaviness that sits at the heart of it all. These aggressive tendencies are softened by a talented grasp of atmosphere, melody, and songcraft, and sometimes are mitigated altogether, letting the music venture down progressive pathways that would otherwise be denied them. The brutal heaviness always returns eventually though, and An Abstract Illusion play to their strengths and capabilities well.

The songs are shaded and multifaceted, each a rich tapestry of metallic texture to be explored and experienced. From bright, eye-catching colours to dark and dismal depths, Woe has it all. There is a lot of meaty content to take in and absorb on this album, but thankfully for every splash of ostentation there is an equally well-delivered depth of substance. An Abstract Illusion have created an album that holds the listener’s attention and keeps them returning for more. Despite the horrifying darkness that lives within this music, the band use this to power an affecting and engaging set of songs that demand your attention.

The only slight issue with the album is the spoken word on Blomsterkrans, which tarnishes the luscious music it is set to, (thus reaffirming my belief that spoken word is a blight on almost any music). Mercifully, it’s brief in this case.

Minor quibbles aside, Woe is quite the piece of work. An Abstract Illusion have seriously impressed.

Essential listening.

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