Phil Illsley used to be the lead vocalist in Lordaeron for several years, and he’s involved with bands such as Taken By The Tide or Death Tripper too. But as A|V, he recently started the project Abduction. This solo-outfit is modestly productive, for Abduction recently released a new full-length album, the third one in nearly two years. The working title of that recording is All Pain Is Penance.
This third album consists of seven tracks, clocking just over forty minutes. The stuff was recorded at the modest Stuck On A Name Studio with Ian Bould, and it got released on both vinyl (250 ‘normal’ black copies and 50 on so-called ‘splatter-vinyl’) and compact disc, and via the evident digital sources. This is a result of a co-operation in between Inferna Profundus Records (Lithuania) and Apocalyptic Witchcraft Records (from the United Kingdom).
With All Pain Is Penance, A|V brings an extremely intensive, powerful and energetic form of Black Metal, which sounds dissonant and dismal too. The fastness gets strengthen by the raging thunder drums of session drummer EG, leaving no room for rest, peace, tranquillity. Yet the drum patterns are not just like a furious AK-47 salvo, for I think the craftsmanship is of a superior level for sure. I hope this guy will collaborate in the future too. String-wise, there is a lot to discover (or is it: uncover) as well, with discording tremolo riffs, hypnotic lead melodies, a harsh yet supportive rhythm section, and fine-balanced bass guitars. Abduction also make use of some subtle synth parts, which are, in their modesty, truly supportive, colouring the event in black-and-white. With the latter, I do refer to the equilibrium in between ominously darkened passages at the one hand, and rather mesmerizing excerpts at the other. Also within the vocal passages, there is a lot of variation, with screams and grunts at the foreground, and much more. It might be less ‘wretched’ than before, yet still the diversification and experimentation with vocal chords is enormous. And hey, without exaggeration it does fit to the whole!
…that being in a nutshell…
This is more than a collection of element. Composition-wise, Abduction balances in between tradition and progression. The basic elements find their roots within the old styled scene for sure. Especially the more epic pieces (Convulsing At Baalbek is a clear representation of this statement) find inspiration in the core-sources of the Old School (generally seen, for this stuff is not limited to the Nineties’ Nordic scene). Yet there is that progressive (no, not as in ‘Progressive Metal’, for there is no link with the experimental Avantgarde scene) approach too in several excerpts. I am rather talking about the eccentric elements that trespass the border with ‘the usual’, yet without leaving the path of occult and obscure Black Metal. There are those dissonant parts, with post-modern riffs and creative rhythms, injected by a vast variation of vocal contributions. Yet interludes like in the gloomy piece Embattled too show a creative process that is distinctive from ‘the average’.
The raw-droning and grim-sounding production gives the whole that touch of occult, mystic and hypnotic elegance, searching for (and finding) a balance in between atmosphere and execution. And that atmosphere, well, let’s say that it is breath-taking; gasping for air while listening is like an instinctive necessity. I do like the roughness of the sound in combination with the technical performance, for this partnership (unpolished production with technically well-crafted play) gets canalised in a very natural result. This goes for all parts: the slower ones, the blasting pieces, the ones with more ‘emotion’ and the fierce, malignant fragments. Not unimportant, I think, is the link with the so-called Morbid Death Metal or Metal-of-Death current in sound and technical performance. The funeral Of Cosmic Mastery, for example, is like the definition of a mostly obscure, even funereal approach that sweetly caresses this related style. Mind, for instance, the groovy drum patterns, the floating keyboards and guitar melodies, and those evocative blackened (echoing) vocals.
This album turns out to be a grandiose recording with a lot to offer. Despite a huge variety in between the individual compositions, and keeping the twisted approach and execution in mind, All Pain As Penance turns out to be a monument of epic majesty, unconventional brutality and open-minded persuasion. In combination with the satisfying sound quality and highly-technical performance, the addition of distinctive elements (like the sometimes crazy-sounding synths, as in Ultra-Terrestrial, and twisted voices), and the gloomy yet vengeful atmosphere, this is nothing less but another recommendation from English soil!