LIMBONIC ART are known for their avant garde take on the symphonic black metal genre, merging blast beats and over-driven guitars with a variety of unsettling, unusual or macabre sounds. From the laughter of children to screams of pain the band have never shied away from disturbing their audience, especially with the first track of each album. (stand-out in this regard are In Abhorrence Dementia and Symphony in Moonlight and Nightmares)
With this in mind, their latest album, Spectre Abysm starts off with some disappointment; the first track Demonic Resurrection, although not a bad showing, is not what fans will have come to expect. You will be first greeted by a simple but punchy guitar riff and intermittent vocals, and then a minute and a half later the song begins in earnest. The production quality is especially high for the genre, and so the drums can be properly heard over the guitars and it is easy to appreciate some of the fills between the long segments of pure blast beats. The song is a solid black metal piece, but there is nothing unique to pin it as exceptional.
Ethereal Traveler will be a popular track amongst fans of new and old black metal alike. There are definite tones of BATHORY in the guitar riffs, and some of the slower sections sound remarkably like I, this piece makes for an interesting listen and although it is nothing new it will feel familiar to a lot of people who buy this album.
Later in the album the track Disciplina Arcani reintroduces the feel of some older LIMBONIC ART material, beginning with an ominous sounding string section and the sound of a thunder storm before a demonic sounding chant, and even backwards vocals; long time fans of the band will feel more at home with this track. Of course after the introduction we are still served an authentic black metal experience with the usual screams and blast beats, but even then the song ends with a slower section, a church organ, echoed vocals and tortured screams before slowly (very slowly) fading out to nothing. This is definitely one to look out for, and a stand out song for the album.
Through the Vast Produndity Obscure is the final track of the album and seems to pay homage to Behind the Mask Obscure both in its name and in the booming timpani introduction. This track is another solid addition to the album, though again feels unadventurous. The blast beats are continuous and unvaried and the guitars alternate between two or three simple and rather slow riffs for the duration. In parts there are hints of the peculiar sounds that this band is known for, four minutes in we are treated to a vocal section which is stuck strangely half way between a growl and a moan, but before long the blast beats are back and the song moves on again. This is an unfortunately forgettable track to end the album on.
All in all Spectre Abysm is a good album, it has solid fundamentals and the influence of some of their more avant garde albums has not been totally lost. It pays homage to the roots of black metal, calling on some old school sounds, and perhaps signals a new direction for the band. For long time fans of LIMBONIC ART and their particular sound, the album might be a let down, but for any black metal fans who have not heard them before, or for anybody not enamoured by their previous instalments this could prove to be a good introduction and a solid listen.
Spectre Abysm is out now via Tanglade.