It is often easy to forget against images of lush Nordic forests and twisted stories of betrayal and murder that Scandinavia is not actually the home of black metal. Instead, you have to look across the North Sea to the west at the spiritual starting point of all metal, the United Kingdom. In 1982, Venom combined high speed thrash metal with dark and menacing guitar tones and unprecedentedly macabre lyrical themes to create the first black metal album, which was called, well, “Black Metal.” But so often the British black metal scene is stale and a mere footnote in comparison to countries like Norway, Germany and Poland. Even as a Brit myself who absolutely adores black metal, I find it hard to recommend many bands from the country who ply their trade in the noisy and abrasive soundscapes the genre offers. It is to my great pleasure then that I can say Abduction’s latest release “Black Blood” with it’s progressive Abigor like riffs and thick ultra-distorted production is easily recommendable and stands head and shoulders above much of what exists in British black metal today.
Rolling in like a deep fog over the hills of Dartmoor is “Kernos Crown.” Seeped in the blackest tar of hatred and swarming with the satan-born bile that only true black metal can produce, the chaotic and jarring sonic hellscape of “Kernos Crown” breeds images of desolation and abandon unbridled that charge forth the with the crushing intensity of the gladiatorial battle staged between the instruments within it. Groovy yet disturbing, harsh yet ultimately approachable, the bastard pantomime that is “Black Blood” has its curtain retracted and its stage laid bare in its most vile resplendence without any hesitation or abstraction on account of such an excellent first track.
Not content with the destruction of ear drums and personal constitutions, Abduction takes aim at the gods, with an ode to a slayed Demeter, god of the harvest, committing tainted acts against a guardian of the Sacred Law. “Dismantling the Corpse of Demeter” has a stormy funeral like atmosphere that soon becomes a omni-present storm of malice and dismay. Whirlwinds of guitar are complimented by fist sized hailstones of percussion as sickly thunderclaps of famine and pestilence take the form of bestial harsh vocals. In “Dismantling the Corpse of Demeter” a storm of biblical proportions dismantles any fear that may exist in the listener of an effort too mild or concerned with juxtaposing elements, and instead shows the truest black metal credentials in all of their confrontational glory (in spite of a flow halting and unnecessary 20 second silence at the end of the song.)
In “Black Blood”, you have the type of music that lives and breathes, it is given an ungodly form, it shouts against sanity and modern sensitivities, it rebels against all that would oppose it with a force greater than any could muster through a medium other than the inalienable actor that is music. Such an intrinsically virtuosic engagement of black metal’s sound has to have come from a group of like-minded individuals, each possessing individual but nevertheless great talents, no? Wrong, this caustic sludge of maleficence and maiming is the by-product of the twisted machinations of A | V’s mind. Such instrumentally accomplished work would be remarkable even if each instrument was to an individual person, but the fact that they are all played by one person themselves is an incredible feat, and cuts away mental images of basement projects with over simplistic compositions that so often befalls the one-man black metal project moniker. I am informed that at one point, A | V used to offer live performances of Abduction with only himself being present, likely through the use of recorded tracks and the ilk, but now and I am sure to much benefit, Abduction does possess a live band with a full rostrum of members, and I am further informed that they are without a doubt worth seeing if you are able to do so, I certainly know that I aim to do so.
No doubt drawing visions of a cave so mystic is “Plutonian Gate” the fascination with a ravaging of Greek mythology and a contortion of it into a tale of woe and decay continues unabated in the sacrilegious perversion that is “Black Blood”’s longest track. Perhaps starting in a more measured way, with some delectable clean vocals, restrained though they may be, “Plutonian Gate” offers a more nuanced ode to oblivion. As inevitable as death and taxes though, the intensity many beseeched adventurers seek arrives in a way fitting and proper. A theatrical bent is entrenched below the mantle of this abyssal track, one that creates a wonderment unconventional and strange, one that encapsulated the horrifying beauty of annihilation. In a world so ineffably cruel and ugly, beauty abounds from the darkest spaces in multitudes. A | V gets this, they understand how to make chaos and disorder palatable, how to peer open the prying eye of Weltschmerz that dirties our very souls and convert it into an appreciation most satiating.
With a more depressive edge, harkening evocations of bands such as Totalselfhatred and Bethlehem, “Lightless at the Grand Conjunction” paints a monochromatic pastiche of a scene forlorn. This spiraling dirge bitterly stabs into the mind of listeners, afflicting them with a sadness barbed with icicles of frosty hate that hang from the grand ceiling of torment. My adoration for this side of black metal cannot be understated, no toxic positivity, no brave faces, only emotive evisceration easing you into an eternal eventide. Like the last day of autumn, a mournful sensation overtakes me hearing this, one of contemplation etched with engravings of abrasion and scarification deep within the psyche.
I listen to a lot of black metal, like, a lot. From the industrial black metal of Thorns to the incontestably brutal Sarcofago all the way through to the despairing and frankly uncomfortable Xasthur. It is then to me remarkable that I can say despite influences from a multitude of bands, within “Black Blood,” Abduction cultivates a sound that is distinctively theirs, with a technicality and eccentricity to their work that doesn’t serve to soften the overall sound – something which many of the more progressive “black metal” bands fail to do. It is also refreshing that such a contemporary black metal band actually keeps to the riffy roots of the subgenre, so many other bands of this wave of consistently approach the genre as a sort of sped up drone metal, thinking that long drawn out monotonous passages cultivates an atmosphere conducive to enjoyment, but in fact is frankly boring. I am happy to report that no such accusation could be levied at Abduction.
With a thematic shift, “A Psylacibic Death” presents a moderately psychedelic affair, perhaps evocative of a bad trip, replete with chasmic groans and tonal obscurities. It is perhaps to be best explained as a black metal envisaging of a nightmare, one upon reflection that calls to me Chopin’s “Prelude, OP.28, No.15,” which was written supposedly in honor or a dreamlike terror that once came over Chopin whilst he played the piano, a terror in which he fell into an icy lake, with freezing drops of rain beating upon him, the only majorly perceptible sensation, besides that of mortal peril. “A Psylacibic Death” shares almost nothing compositionally with such a piece, and yet I feel the same when I hear it, I hear fear and anguish, I hear the sensation of drowning deeply in a thick haze, I hear the hopelessness we are met with when we witness the sight of a fate we cannot change and even less understand.
Such a pensive passage however does not last into the sixth and final dirge of “Black Blood.” “In Exaltation of the Supreme Being” is an offering, a sacrifice, an invocation. It is a savage and unyielding butcher, lacerating the meek, distilling the essence of divinely inspired envy and rage into a condensed eight-minute package. Screaming, thrashing, seething and crashing, the track is the platonic form of negativity, no further encapsulation of such a notion is necessary, no further treatise on its merits or its foibles. It is simply blackness made incarnate.
What more can I say about such a near perfect album, I can hardly think to criticize it. In honor of my critical duty, I must confess I perhaps may have wished ever so slightly to hear messier segments on the odd occasion, though so seldom was it that I would be remiss to claim it had compromised my active enjoyment of the record and instead only slightly blemishes my retrospective meditation of it. I am proud to know the UKBM scene is producing music like this, so uncompromising, so drenched in emotion and intent, so dizzyingly addictive, “Black Blood” is simply the greatest black metal album to have come out of the United Kingdom since the most famous aforementioned and genres name sake, “Black Metal” by Venom.
Released By: Candlelight Records
Release Date: November 11th 2022
Genre(s): Black Metal / Progressive Black Metal
- A | V: Everything
“Black Blood” Track-listing:
- Kernos Crown
- Dismantling the Corpse of Demeter
- Plutonian Gate
- Lightless at the Grand Conjunction
- A Psylicabic Death
- In Exaltation of the Supreme Being
Order “Black Blood” here.
Be you seeking dark vibes or excellent musicianship paralleled by few other acts, Abduction’s Black Blood is a masterwork of expressive and serious black metal that dedicates itself to the profane with unabashed zeal