Crown of Curses by Abduction
Crown of Curses by Abduction is a such a record that stays with you for a while, invoking you to listen to it over and over again; essentially, it is haunting. Resinating with you and growing with you like an evil spirit (allegedly) would. Hence why it took me a while to get around to actually writing the review for this one. Upon hearing it first and as I’m writing this now listening to it for about the twentieth damned time, I’m still finding new elements in the songs to gravitate towards. It may not be the most technically well orchestrated or most complex record of all time; far from it, but what Abduction have created is a polarizing symphony of chaos that demands to be heard again and again.
Previously unfamiliar with Abduction’s work before inviting their decibels to possess my ears and soul, I was beyond intrigued when I found out this, in fact, is a solo project. That’s right, Abduction is not a band at all, rather an ominous hooded figure handling 6 (66) string and howling vocals calling to the darkness beyond while playing live; and humble Phil Illsley record everything himself in the tuition under the Abduction guise. I don’t know much about said Mr. Illsley, and I hope I didn’t blow his spot, but I’d love to talk to him after hearing this record. Arguably it shouldn’t matter wether this music was constructed and preformed by a single entity or an army of diabolic musicians; the music should be judged based and appreciated based on the final product, I guess. But GODDAMN I can’t help but be impressed that everything heard on Crown of Curses came from one guy, and that constantly adds value to the record each time its listened to. Only to add some icing on the cake er - corpses on the pyre, Abduction hails from Derby, England and is produced by one of my long time favorite labels, Death Kvlt productions; as small but menacing and loyal independent label based in the UK. My long time dedication, love, and bias to music and culture of my friends across the pond is well known, and this certainly did not live that down. Not even close.
It doesn’t take long to realize that once you’re hearing Abductions latest offering, you are not hearing a traditional, run of the mill, black metal record. Well, you kind of are, in fundamental blueprint only; but this takes a sonic path of experimentation that’ll be felt in all the crevices of the underworld. An electronic, droning, and horrific intro is spun into a devastating, void-spawning, thunderous roll of thrashed out black metal. Weaving in and out of distorted, warped vocals and atmospheric noise; this record plays out like what I can only describe as a true soundtrack to Hellraiser. Like, this is the shit Pinhead and his gang of Centobites chill out and jam to within the dark and torturous confines of voids beyond this world. If you do not know what I’m talking about, I apologize, and I’ll do my best to accurately articulate the agonizing yet beautifully rocking sounds the pollute the airwaves when said record is spun. And for those of you that are completely down to that description, it literally sounds like that. And I really, really, enjoy it. And you should too.
While sound extermination and electronic nodes are certainly felt and going on within this record it certainly does not stray far from is ancient and frozen black metal roots. The guitars, while plenty fast and ripping, are, strangely enough, mostly melodic. Played against the absolutely devastating and relentlessly beaten drums and thick, heavy bass lines; it sounds beautifully chaotic. Topped off with mostly traditional black metal growls and trading off between groovy-yet-demonic hooks and straightforward throat-slashing metal set to an agonizingly dark atmospheric back drop; this is a trip to hell and back tenfold. And I’m flying by the skin of my teeth with a smile that belongs within the confines of a mental institution on my face. Completely normal.
The more I listen to this record the more I got the vibe and intention that this plays out like one single piece of music rather than individual songs, which has positives and negatives in general. I certainly love records that each song has its own individual character and does not necessarily “go with” the rest of the songs, but in this case, the symphonic flow of the songs works perfectly. Abduction reminds me of something like an evil, black metal, MUCH darker, Pink Floyd with this record. As ridiculous as that may sound and I don’t mean to give you the wrong impression of them or him, rather; I say that with nothing but admiration. It just makes it crazier to me how this is all orchestrated by a single musician. At his point, I would expect one instrument to outshine another. Especially as a solo effort, its easy to tell where the musician’s strengths and weaknesses lie. That is not the case with Abduction. Each instrument on each song sounds strong and independent, as if a seasoned and refined black metal band were doing it. All the more impressive that this is one man, again. Staring off, I was mostly intrigued by the guitar, seeing that the grim melody of the strings played well agains the chaos. By the end of the record, I had switched gears completely and began appreciating the drums the most. The drums are simply relentless yet are played with such progression that makes them nothing short of hypnotic. Not to mention, simply with the way this record was produced and mixed, the sheer sound of the drums is prefect. The cymbals clash and the toms echo with such a striking tone that just really stand out in the mix, and make the record feel complete and encapsulate the ever grim and agonizing atmosphere. Which, for my money, is what true black metal is all about.
The atmosphere and just general tone of this record is something special. The extreme and punishing black metal played against the sonic hell created by the electronic experimentation and grim bass lines give this a very apocalyptic kind of vibe, if that makes sense. Its very grim and barren yet portraying a satanic futuristic dystopia. As complex and maybe even ridiculous as that may sound, Abduction still does not loose sight of creating a good SONG. A lot of tunes on here are very atmospheric, long, and droning, but ill be damned if they aren’t catchy and melodic, as well. For example, Hastam Omne Verbum, is one of the longer tracks but wastes no time getting to Dissection-esque triumphant and crushing war cries. But also has symphonic melody, and a catchy breakdown and guttural vocals that wouldn’t be out of place on a classic death metal record. If there’s one thing our boy in Abduction has mastered, its honing a plethora of musical elements and manipulating them to get his message across, and it’s quite great. The next track, Respiratory Prison, is not only another fantastic metal song title but another display of this level of musical creativity. The droning, psyched-out, dark headspace is created and is hurled into a universe of oblivioin in this 12-minute epic. And, side note, has the coolest, grimmest, and creepiest lurking riff meddled within its realms of choices that stacks up next to any. It is simply menacing atmosphere at its finest. Especially on the second to last track, Equinox of Defeat, an instrumental that is technically the most pleasant (?) sounding, yet feels the most evil. And this tradition continues until the records finale.
While I absolutely loved this record, I do have to say it is not perfect, but that at the same time is what makes it perfect… ya know what I mean? If this was a perfectly played and polished record, it would not have near the same effect on the listener and the message Abduction is trying to convey would be obliterated. It dwells and the darkness and is damn well comfortable with that. I feel as though Crown of Curses is a solid achievement from a solo artist and a work of art, really. I urge you to listen to this and hope you will enjoy it as much as I did, but be warned, it certainly is not for the faint of heart. Like, even a little bit.
Rock Rating: 4/5
Gym Rating: 3/5
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