Transgression is the first release from this ambitious Greek duo, formed back in 2002. Veiled and Substant, sharing the vocal, visual and musical duties, states a pretty bold mission objective – to fuse extreme metal’s eerie darkness, the strange tonal systems of modern art music (serialism, atonal and tone scales etc.) and psychedelic visual art, in order to walk down a new musical path. Indeed, pretty ambitious for a band’s first release, and before listening it mostly seemed pretentious and rather silly. But… I was very, very wrong.
The music of Abstruse (a synonym of “obscure”, it seems) is extremely experimental, though it rarely leaves a metallic context. Their claiming of using the disharmonic scales of 20th century avantgardist composers is definitely no ostentatious bullshit, among the dark metal riffs (a fair reference should be early progressive death metal) I can hear not only traces of Schönberg’s Twelve-tone technique, but a distinct use of it; programmed melodies intertwine with guitar sweeps, melodies are turned inside out, played in reverse, everything those Germans did back in the angst ridden 1920’s. The dreamy whole tone scales of Debussy add a misty surreal veil to the chaotic dodecaphony… But still, they never leave the metallic course. Bloody awesome? Indeed! The opener hints both to the crazy electrojazz of Last-Minute Lies-era Fleurety and to the playfulness of the Atrox guitarists. The slightly slower “Ceremonial Torches” brings to mind a dark mix of Karl Sanders mythological solo works and The Residents (!!!). The guitar lines at points resemble the works of Carl-August Tidemann before joining Winds (i.e. Arcturus)… but enough references. Is it strange? Yes. Great? YES. Few can achieve music as technically stunning as this, without simultaneously losing my interest. Very cerebral. I like that.
The vocals are pretty strange, deep half-roared whispers most of the time. The programmed drums might annoy some, but they merge naturally with the overall technological sound; only the blastbeats sounds plastic. What I also like is the visuals accompanying some of the songs on a DVD. Psychedelic as hell, blurry shots of nature flowing into each other in many pretty colours (a lot of colour inversion and that kind of stuff). I‘m an ignorant when it comes to video art, but I know what I enjoy. This, for example.
If you are in any way interested in experimental, groundbreaking or just highly technical music, you want to hear this. This will definitely not be the last you’ll hear from Abstruse.
Avantgenre: Cerebral Death Experiments
Official site: http://www.abstruseweb.com/
Review online since: 12.10.2007 / 16:35:46