Abysmal Grief - _We Lead the Procession_
(Terror From Hell Records, 2014)
by: Chaim Drishner (9 out of 10)
Alright, let's start from the end. The last track on this adorable enhanced CD is a video clip for Abysmal Grief's "Sinister Gleams", one of the darkest tracks in the band's arsenal, possessing one of the best central riffs in the history of metal. Seriously, this riff, played over and over again throughout the track/video, is purely sublime; executed by simple rhythm guitar chords and a series of vintage sounding church organ notes -- is exactly what its title suggests: fucking sinister.

The clip is great, in a corny kind of way, where every visual cliché trying to portray -The Dark- has been thrown into the video blender; and yet, no matter how corny or dorky the elements with which Abysmal Grief are amusing themselves (or us, for that matter), this Italian four-piece seems to have been born with a fail-safe mechanism that allows them to play it silly and goofy and still remain the absolute winners.

_We Lead the Procession_ is more of an anthology than anything else, as it compiles not "hit songs" from the band's career and binds not several tracks from several albums, but rather gathers under one sonic roof the band's most obscure and unknown tracks -- some of which likely to had gotten a proper professional treatment for the very first time -- spanning more than a decade of creativity that portray the band's arguable evolution throughout all these dark years. Some of the stuff is pretty old material, mostly derived from demos and rehearsal tapes, re-recorded some years later; there's a couple of cover songs (Bathory and Paul Chain / Death SS original tracks), one track recorded during a live show and the aforementioned video clip, which is also the newest of the crop (produced in 2013).

Any fan of this phenomenal band will know what to expect: dark, religious sounding heavy metal with the most depraved atmosphere, an exquisite musicianship manifested by sinister church organs, unique, semi-clean deep vocals and catchiness galore.

What most of you won't expect is a more dynamic band venturing away from their doom-laden gothica into the thrash-oriented metal realms. The Abysmal Grief one would meet on _We Lead the Procession_ is a slightly different beast of prey; more thrashing and streamlined with the heavier and faster facets of heavy metal. Hell, you can even headbang to some of those tunes.

The mildly underground sound of the apparently under-produced tracks gives the music an additional dimension of mystery and god-awfulness. But Abysmal Grief's music is not production-dependent; their compositions sound perfect either way. Their skill lies first and foremost in their genuine know-how of the art of songwriting. They set that perfect central riff, which they repeat throughout each track, around which they coil their ghoulish keyboards, their frontman's black-hole vocals and the entire rhythm section. The music is pretty basic, but the culmination of all elements into one undivided sonic entity of dread and impenetrable, tangible darkness -- results in perfect songs among which are some of the most spiritual, sinister and enjoyable moments heavy metal has ever bestowed upon us.

_We Lead the Procession_ is recommended both to those who are initiated with the works of Abysmal Grief and to those who have never heard of that grand, unique and macabre Italian necromancing machine. Those who are familiar with the magic of Abysmal Grief, would face with this anthology a harsher, faster, and ever moreso dark a band, in their most underground phase. A band whose ties with doom metal are not that pronounced or established yet, and instead a spectrum of aesthetics is being approached and executed: thrash and power metal, gothic post-punk rock and of course a slice of doom as well.

Those who do not know this band yet, this album is a fine introductory to one of the most unique heavy metal bands in existence, past and present. Abysmal Grief is, in itself, a crash course through the methodology (or the lack thereof) of the art of writing songs that would be catchy, memorable, addictive and unique, all in the very same time. Couple that with the atmosphere and the fine exploitation of the musical instruments of choice -- and there's the concoction for the perfect song, if there ever was one.

So, whether you're a gothic rock or traditional doom fan; a fan of classic heavy metal or of any kind of hauntingly religious musical esoterica, this album will quench many dry mouths on their quest to the perfectly dark heavy metal experience.

The style and sound of Abysmal Grief, beyond its spectacular inherent somber beauty, is also quite singular. If you happen to like the occult Italian sound of Monumentum, Cultus Sanguine, early Mortuary Drape, or the works of The Coffinshakers and especially Tristitia's masterwork _Crucidiction_, you'll find everything you love and adore in regard to that unique sound right here, as you would in any other Abysmal Grief recording. Remember the name of that phenomenal dark entity; they lead the procession, indeed!

Contact: http://www.elektroplasmamusik.eu

(article published 16/10/2014)


ALBUMS
6/8/2013 C Drishner 9 Abysmal Grief - Feretri
6/11/2008 C Drishner 9.5 Abysmal Grief - Abysmal Grief
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