Sometimes the best music is that which you know nothing about beforehand. Take Abstracter for example. Promo came across my desk and like everything that comes across my desk, I gave it a solid listen. Guys and gals, I know we’re barely a week into the new year but hitting “play” on Wound Empire, the second release from Oakland’s Abstracter, is easily one of the best decisions I’ll have made all year. Guaranteed.
But I digress.
There’s four tracks here and the run time hits just over forty two minutes if that tells you anything about what you’re in for. Abstracter’s sound is, refreshingly, indescribable. It’s brutal, it’s extreme, it’s dirge-like, and most importantly: undeniably heavy. “Lightless” sets a bleak tone and provides the score as listeners brave the barren wasteland of a scorched earth until a monolithic barrage of guitars and drums fills the sky, threatening to come crashing down at any moment. Like Old Man Gloom’s epic Seminar III: Zozobra but with the “evil” knob turned up to “11”, “Lightless” is an equally epic journey propelled by the kinds of pained screams that will have you rocking back and forth on the floor holding yourself while crying out for your momma.
“Open Veins” begins just as ominously but offers a few glimmers of hope with subdued harmonies emerging through the darkness while “Cruciform” shifts between these unbelievably beautiful sonic passages that give way to an absolute maelstrom of sticks and strings and drum heads and cymbals being decimated. With the way the album has gone so far, it can only end equally as monstrous as the rest, yes? That’s where “Glowing Wounds” comes in. Wait, are there actual clean vocals here? More like chants that echo the slow burn of the track which crescendos to this soaring guitar line and offers a brief respite from the hell being wrought below when the band really picks up the pace and the vocals become the stuff of nightmares.
Best advice for listening to Wound Empire? Give yourself an hour, plug in your headphones and listen to it loud and uninterrupted. Then give yourself another hour alone to recover from the experience.
Wound Empire is out on February 10th through Sentient Ruin Labratories. Pre-orders are available here.