One of the real joys of underground music is watching bands develop before our eyes, going from promising early releases to albums that more than live up to expectations. Such is the case with the latest album from Abstracter, Cinerous Incarnate. The band have evolved, building on their earlier sounds, bringing further elements of noise and dark ambient to their already soul-crushing fusion of doom, black, death, and crust. It makes Cinerous Incarnate an album of utter despair and world-ending heaviness, filled with the kind of riffs that can collapse buildings and an atmosphere of the most haunting, searing dread.
As all this should imply, Cinerous Incarnate is not a comfortable listen. The songs are fairly long – excluding the interludes, none are shorter than nine minutes – giving Abstracter plenty of time to explore their sound. Even by their own previous standards, these tracks are unsettling. Built upon a base sound that’s comparable to Dragged Into Sunlight playing cavernous death metal, they don’t so much build up an atmosphere as throw the listener straight into their world of darkness and hurt. The feedback-drenched opening segment of first track ‘Nether’ presents an opportunity to take a lungful of air before being plunged into the depths.
Once you do go under, practically all sense of direction is lost; these songs are suffocating, and relentless in their single-minded onslaught. That’s not to say that they’re monotonous, as there are plenty of shifts in tempo, emphasis, and texture; but rather, everything is done with the intention of conjuring the most inhospitable aura possible, whilst still remaining listenable. As strong as the atmosphere of Cinerous Incarnate is – and it’s arguably the best point of the album – there are also some great riffs here, buried in the ruins and blackness.
And yet, oddly, there is something almost accessible about Cinerous Incarnate. As punishing a listen as it is, and as inhospitable an atmosphere it conjures, fans of bands such as Dragged Into Sunlight, Godflesh, Portal, or the kind of mind-melting metal regularly being released by the likes of Dark Descent Records and Sentient Ruin Laboratories will feel right at home here. The inclusion of dark ambient and noise based interludes also helps, by creating moments of strong contrast, that add to the overall atmosphere and sense of dread that cloaks Cinerous Incarnate, whilst providing points of sonic contrast.
It’s interesting to see so many labels involved in the release of Cinerous Incarnate, and it can only be a good thing – especially considering the reputations of all involved. As great as their previous records were, this feels like the point at which Abstracter have released a definitive statement – the kind of album that will endure long after the band have split up. It is too oppressive, too bleak to even be “big” in any kind of conventional sense – but for those dark, wounded souls of the underground, who seeks sounds who hurt like they hurt, this will speak to you like few other records do.
Cinerous Incarnate is due for release on 8 June 2018, and can be pre-ordered digital, CD, vinyl, and cassette via Bandcamp; on cassette via Tartarus Records; vinyl and cassette via Sentient Ruin; digital, vinyl and cassette via Vendetta Records; CD via I, Voidhanger Recordings; and CD (including bonus Amebix cover) via Daymare Recordings.