I think I’ve just found the perfect soundtrack to a bleak midwinter. Oakland, California’s Abstracter certainly aren’t bringing any sunshine with their second album release through Vendetta Records – “Wound Empire”. And by winter I mean nuclear winter rather than some festive snow-dusted period. One of the first references that popped into my head was the movie “The Road” (based on the book by Cormac McCarthy) with it’s endless vistas of wet, black ash covering the ruins of civilisation. There is very little relief or respite across these four, long songs – just endless miles of misery and dirt.
Abstracter play blackened doom with its roots mired firmly in the rankest sludge. It may sound like hell on earth but it’s been captured brilliantly; recorded by Greg Wilkinson (previous works include Pallbearer,High on Fire, OM, Sleep and Noothgrush) and mastered by Brad Boatright (previous works include Nails, Sunn O))), Wolves In The Throne Room and Culted).
Massive riff after riff deaden the soul and crush the spirit, with vocals like vicious gales of icy malevolence. Any meaning is frustratingly just out of reach, perhaps intentionally because, really, what comfort could it bring – this is the dying breath of a planet. All meaning is in its existence. All meaning is gone after it ends. All you can do is witness it, helpless.
Final track “Glowing Wounds” briefly finds the band harnessing the song of ancient religion, backing vocals like Gregorian chants bringing a new dimension to this contemplation of the end. It is soon overwhelmed and crushed by a vibe of hateful triumph. A surge of feedback brings it to a close, flaring and then dying in a heartbeat.
This is not an album to listen to if you’re suffering from seasonal affective disorder. On the other hand if you can’t wait for the end of our miserable planet then this foretaste should tide you over till the end of times.