Album Review – Absconditus / Kατάβασις (2015)

An obscure descent to the underworld in the form of extreme music by a talented Occult Black Metal act from France.

Rating5

IVR041 Absconditus_Katabasis_1600pxIn Greek mythology, Kατάβασις (pronounced “katabasis”) means a descent to the underworld, and that is exactly what you will feel while listening to the debut full-length album by French Occult Black Metal band Absconditus. By the way, the name of the band comes from Latin, meaning “occult” or “hidden”, which perfectly represents their musicality, lyrics and everything else. In other words, if you have the nerve to face such a cryptic band piercing your mind with their dark and deranged music, you may ultimately relish a distinct experience in Extreme Metal.

Founded in 2010 by guitarist/songwriter Loxias upon the ashes of French Cult Black/Death Metal band Borgia, Absconditus offer solid and dissonant melodies enhanced by hints of melancholy, drama and introspective tension, with Kατάβασις being the the initiatic path that one has to walk in order to gain freedom and mastery over existence in a demiurgic world, according to the band. Not only that, the whole album is sung entirely in French. Do you think this is already too much information to absorb? Well, wait until you read the rest of this review and, of course, listen to the entire album, and you’ll see this is just the beginning.

An intro that goes on for over three minutes like Prologue à l’Agonie (or “prologue to agony”, in English) gives you an idea of the obscure voyage that’s about to start. What begins in a slow and dark way suddenly becomes a massacre full of melancholy, setting the stage for the macabre Mystagogie des Limbes (“limbo mystagogy”), or the principles, doctrines, and practices of mysticism, powered by its beautiful lyrics (“L’effroi illumine ma voie, je perçois la ruine en eminence / Un oremus cristallin s’élève vers les cieux / La dualité de ma noblesse fait écho à la décadence des ages / Dans l’ascension vertigineuse de mon âme captive”) amidst an atmosphere generated by Blackened Doom. Is there a way vocalist Aliexagore could have sounded more desperate than this? Moreover, in my opinion its riffs somehow transport the listener to Norway due to their strong Black Metal-ish feeling.

3540396969_logoElegeía (Confession au Cénotaphe), or “elegy (confession at the cenotaph)”, which means an “empty tomb” or a monument erected in honour of a person or group of people whose remains are elsewhere, brings forth a huge amount of darkness and disgrace, including a draconian invocation performed by Aliexagore, Loxias and Guillaume Pingard. Drummer Anderswo shows he’s an extremely technical musician whose skills contribute to add extra layers of violence and intricacy to the musicality, while Loxias seems to be hypnotized by the dark side, delivering truly demonic lines. And get ready for the ending climax of the song, it is outstanding. Darkening their sonority a bit more we have Exultet – L’Aurore Schismatique (“exultet – schismatic dawn”), the hymn of praise sung, ideally by a deacon, before the paschal candle during the Easter Vigil in the Roman Rite of Mass. It varies from atmospheric Doom Metal to pure Black Metal, with Aliexagore sounding even more satanic than in the previous tracks and with the addition of considerable dosages of progressiveness thanks to the talent of the musicians involved, as if Mastodon became a Black Metal act.

Hybris au Bord du Précipice (“hybris at the border of the precipice”), with the word “hybris” meaning extreme pride or self-confidence, is yet another exhibit of despair and chaos, and even if you don’t speak French you will love those lyrics (“Je partage le destin du fils de Prométhée / Sans assumer la puissance de l’affront / La semeuse d’étoiles attend mon retour / Nourrissant les espoirs de la vermine affamée”). The music itself is comprised of Occult and Progressive Black Metal professionally put together, where Loxias tries some new techniques that elevate the magnitude of the music, with highlights to the last part of the song being some kind of downward spiral to the depths of hell. And lastly, Le Nouvel Astre (“the new star”) is an instrumental outro as sinister as the intro, a dark but beautiful ending where the amazing guitar lines by Loxias are perfectly complemented by the complex beats by Anderswo.

Featuring an at the same time beautiful but eerie artwork by British artist Bethany White, Kατάβασις, which can be purchased at the I, Voidhanger Records BandCamp page, exhales darkness and complexity, making it a recommended choice for your extreme music collection. If a downward journey to the underworld is part of your plans, let this occult French act help you with the soundtrack.

Best moments of the album: Elegeía (Confession au Cénotaphe) and Hybris au Bord du Précipice.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2015 I, Voidhanger Records

Track listing
1.Prologue à l’Agonie 3:30
2.Mystagogie des Limbes 8:46
3.Elegeía (Confession au Cénotaphe) 9:24
4.Exultet – L’Aurore Schismatique 8:39
5.Hybris au Bord du Précipice 7:56
6.Le Nouvel Astre 3:09

Band members
Aliexagore – session vocals
Loxias – guitars, bass
Anderswo – drums

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