Written by: The Administrator
Alas. Despite what ye may have heard, it's not all ink, parchment, and drafty scriptoriums here at the Sleeping Village. As a semi-functional (and, yes, entirely fictional) medieval settlement, we are no strangers to physical labor. The crops must be harvested, the huts must be thatched, and, much to our chagrin, the primordial sewage pit doesn't just empty itself. And so, on days like this, when the workload is imposing and the potential for sweaty brows is nigh inevitable, we highfalutin peasants require a soundtrack befitting the tasks at hand. Enter, then, the always reliable Transcending Obscurity Records. More specifically, enter Abscession's monstrous (and varied) Rot of Ages.
Let me be blunt. This is exciting Swedeath at its finest. This is exciting, burly Swedeath at its finest. No, let me revise that once more. This is exciting, burly, melodically-inclined, beat-you-up-and-steal-your-lunch-money Swedeath at its absolute fuckin' finest. Despite having limited listening time by benefit of its recent release date, I'm comfortably considering this album among one of my favorite exemplars of the style released this year. Mostly because Abscession's view of said style feels uncommonly expansive.
No doubt about it: this album is muscular and chunky as hell, and thereby serves up a healthy pummeling. But sheer heaviness does not constitute Abscession's full hand. Rot of Ages is a delectably balanced and nuanced piece, with many, many moments that stick out as poignant oddities and points of interest. Sonically, this is a very diverse 40 minutes, which is not a phrase I was expecting to write when first selecting this album from the promo pit.
Rot of Ages understands balance and dynamic composition inordinately well, which, of course, results in a listening experience that is far from dull or predictable. "When The Guillotine Falls" is an obvious highlight track when it comes to unique inclusions, as the clean vocals, delicate synth, and general melodic undercurrent may not be the fare you expect from those who deal in chunky chainsaw riffs. But this song certainly isn't the only moment that breaks the mold.
Take the stupendous piano-backed balladry that abruptly-yet-gracefully interrupts the title track, providing an unexpected and beautiful moment of clarity in the midst of chaos. "Rains of Death" features a heavy Gothenburg influence, with a clean lead repeatedly ripping through the churn, lending a notable melodic flair. Melodeath influences indeed abound across the album--take the back end of "Dead Man's Hate," where the colorful guitar in the outro is accentuated by benefit of contrast, considering the groovy fashion in which the vocals chase the preceding meaty riffage. "Eta Della Putrefazione" is an eerie synth-based number, heavy on the atmospherics with very little--beyond a general sense of menace--tying it to the album as a whole. But by some alchemical application of both skill and charisma, Abscession pull it off with great aplomb. Even on their more basic Swedeath oriented tracks, the genre's intoxicating potential is on full display. Take a track like opener “Rat King Crawl” or the invigorating "Final Furnace," wherein impossibly beastly riffs are paired with equally beastly (yet tastefully comprehensible) vocal delivery. Tracks like this are as blood-pumping as they are fun, and the sudden urge I have to rip a tree out of the ground feels like a reasonable reaction.
So, in sum, Rot of Ages delivers just the kind of HM-2 belligerence required to power us sleepy villagers through the a hard day's work. That said, Abscession are far more than just another satisfying-but-forgettable Swedeath band. This album stands out from the crowd in a big way by benefit of its willingness to shake things up and utilize various sounds and styles to accomplish engaging songcraft. Abscession seek to bludgeon without relying exclusively on stale convention, and that's no small commitment.
My final word? Rot of Ages is an excellent album littered with show-stopping moments. I highly recommend you give it a well-deserved listen.
Abscession - Rot of Ages was released Nov. 19th, 2021 from Transcending Obscurity Records. Find it on bandcamp here!