All Pain As Penance by Abduction
Ah, one-man black metal projects, solo black metal acts, solo bands of infinite pain and demonic respiration.. whatever you’d like to coin them, it seems as though it is their time to rise. As from the current state of the underground extreme metal scene we are facing a bit of a resurgence of this solo project / alpha-man-beast. I’m careful as to not use the term “trend” when it comes to describing this age - ‘ol phenomena, but on one devilishly-inflated hand, it is hard not to. however, on the other hand rooted in history and reflection, the black metal solo project has been around since the primordial dawn of the evolution of the genre; and it’s foundations forged from and by the hands genre’s ultimate faith-incinerating scapegoat, Burzum (among others). Since those frostbitten yet ironically charred remains of the Scandinavian 1980’s, black metal itself has experienced quite the genre-imploding evolution (for better or for worse, the purists will say worse.. I like to remain positive, so please kill me) and to this today their is a seemingly infinite regeneration of black metal bands protruding their ugly souls from the underground and even snaking their way into the more “mainstream” and theater-driven realms of the metal world. But, if there’s any genre that is designed to be exclusive, an obnoxiously prevalent and burning middle finger that sounds like a punishment; that would be black metal. At its truest, eldest, and purest form. There are plenty of bands still proudly flying that tattered flag in the faces of all that is holy and pop music inspired, sure. But, to my estimation at least, some of the most torturous and true black metal being put out today is that of the spite and passion-driven solo project. Not to intentionally namedrop a few current & obscure solo black metal projects I dig to prove my street-cred (although there are plenty within this crypt and on the playlists you may feel free to check out) I leave to you unearth that realm because I do not wish to take away the attention from whom we are all gathered here today to discuss. Which, freaks, brings us to Exhibit A: ABDUCTION. Being as this UK-based solo black metal artist unleashed his crushing sophomore album upon the underground last year with “A Crown Of Curses” (review here) that actually made it on my “Best of 2018” list (also here), you safely assume that my anticipation and genuine psychopathic excitement for the follow-up was turned up to 11… sweaty, loud, angsty, and blasphemous. I guess some things will never change. Did however, Abduction change with their follow-up effort, “All Pain as Penance”? Did it match the levels of sheer sonic chaos, portal-opening compositions along with grimly alien experimentation on top of riffs that’ll make the darkest demons cringe? Yes. And no. Is that necessarily a bad thing? Grab the nearest set of rosary beads, and let’s jump into this masterclass in one-man-black-metal.
As mentioned, I cannot get enough of the current state of the black metal scene. Sure there is some shit, as there is with literally anything, but there is a TON of genuine greatness showing its beautifully hellish skin. Abduction, to me, brought to my attention the legitimateness of current solo man black metal projects, and reigns supreme as the best of the new batch that I’ve heard. Rotting hands down. So, I just want to sort of smash the pumpkin and jump in the guts of the “single man project.” We get it. It’s impressive as all hell. All the instruments, lyrics, and vocals were recorded and written by the same guy (genius) and that’s all the further we have to take this groovy gravy train. Going into the music for what it is, just fantastic extreme metal. If there is one musician on this record or if there is 17 should really not make a difference as to the option of the work itself. So, from here on out, Abduction will reign as just that. Bring the pain. And he does. NOW THAT THAT’S OUT OF THE WAY. (Someone once told me I should cut down my intros so I added that extra paragraph.)
Abduction reasserts his dominance with the warm and inviting opening track that is “Infinite Ancient Hexes”; and once that number is over I can guarantee you’ll feel the residual affects of said black magic. That’s a good thing, I PROMISE. Abduction makes a statement with this one as if there was any wonder to if this could hold up to the masterpiece that is his last record. Immediately, the song is blisteringly heavy in every which way, the production is noticeably better (but not TOO good.. and that’s important to note, too..) and it sounds fresher and more intelligent than ever. Can that blood continue to stream through the veins of the rest of the record? You bet your sweet, condemned, ass it does. As soon as I found my mind wandering to “I wonder if Abduction will stilly employ that centobite-esque electronic experimentation technique to further darken the atmosphere and weird me out today”, “ULTRA TERRESTIAL” fittingly follow suit and spawns a void into the Hellraiser land with the droning interludes of a Xenomorphic weaponry. It explodes whatever planet you assumed you were listening to this record on with rapid fire black metal blasphemy. And that ever present, lurking, and dripping in primordial black ooze presence just enriches and threatens that listener in the background until the conclusion. So far, so good with me. The “electronic experimentation” I discuss is that of only tones, echoes, and blemishes of evil that Abduction used SO well on “A Crown Of Curses”, and if you heard it (you should), you will understand this is the farthest thing from EDM - black metal… so DON’T go getting yourself the wrong idea. That’ll cost you a FINGER where I come from! In fact, the more spins I put on “All Pain As Penance” I realize there is maybe not quite as much of this (noticeably, anyway) as on the debut. This ultimately works in Abduction’s favor as it makes this record a more diverse and intriguing listen, as well providing him the opportunity to flex his muscles as a genuine and pure black metal songwriter without relying on any such techniques. In fact, the absence of the hellish electro vibes just makes them all the more powerful when they actually are present, making all aspects of this record ultimately better for it (although the purely evil electro halfway-marker track, “Embattled” is absolutely glorious and a perfect fit to break up the eviscerating pace of the record). All the above is compiled on some MEAN guitar work, dressed to the nines in beautifully chaotic distortion and pulsating feedback, make the viscous black metal riffs feel like you’re being thrown in a pit of razor wire and the looming clean(ish) melodies feel like Satan himself is whispering you a lullaby. Oh yeah… It’s that good.
Abduction has clearly matured as a songwriter, re-upped the production quality, and displays more diverse arrangements; of course all of which concoct a more exciting listening experience. That is NOT to say, however, there is no pain inflicted upon the listener. Refer back to the title if you’d every thought to question that. As if to atone for our sins, “All Pain As Penance”, as “diverse” as it can be at times is also HEAVY… as a motherfucker, to be precise. Wether it be the blowtorch-to-gasoline breakdowns on “Prayer of Electrocution” or “Seven Apparitions of Suffering”’ it is quite clear that Abduction hold nothing back, in any department, on this record of suffering that makes an exorcism look like a brisk walk in the sunny English countryside. Speaking of heaviness, one aspect I definitely notice being churned up a bit on this one is the drumming. If the song is not punishing the listener with sheer heaviness and never-gets-old-black-metal-blast-beats, they are weaving in and out of your psyche with incantation-summoning patterns paced and orchestrated to perfection. Have a listen to (my favorite track of all of Abduction’s catalog) “Convulsing at Baalbek” for a general summary of the aforementioned; spiced up between viscously venomous vocal firepower or eerily haunting echoes and lurking lyrics akin to that of a unearthed spell, over dooming and droning chords of course.
Alas, any perfect extreme metal record, especially one of this nature, would not be complete without an epic conclusion. Abduction can effectively and definitely mic-drop it on “The Funeral of Cosmic Mastery” because if you couldn’t tell from the title alone; it is just that. This 7-plus minute funeral procession is the ultimate and perfect eulogy to a perfect black metal record. Everything from the infinitely dark atmosphere to sonically blistering instrumentation, to the otherworldly lyricism and haunting melodies of pain and infinity… there’s a little something special on this track that not only summarizes “All Pain As Penance”, but ultimately sends Abduction’s message in the most menacingly orchestrated of ways possible. Abduction have certainly set the bar high with this follow-up as well as released the perfect album to complete this unholy trilogy. Until then, I’ll be blasting this one at every chance I get… wether it be on deadlift day or at a baptism. Hail
Gym rating: 5/5
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