Hail The Abyss
Review by Vladimir on May 21, 2023.
For those of you who have been following me frequently, you know that I am a big fan of melodic black metal, especially if it’s of Swedish origin. Although today’s topic will not be covering a Swedish melodic black/death metal band, I will be focusing on a particular band which was heavily influenced by the likes of Dissection, Sacramentum, Unanimated, Vinterland, Dawn, The Moaning, Gates Of Ishtar etc. The band I am talking about is none other than Thulcandra from Germany. When I discovered them a couple of years ago, I was actually surprised to realize that the band was founded by Jürgen Zintz (RIP) and Steffen Kummerer, both of which are well known for being members of Obscura. To be honest, I am not an Obscura fan, because their music just never worked for me, but I thought that Thulcandra is definitely something that would suit my taste. I will admit that this isn’t a band I frequently listen to or pay much attention to, but I was actually willing to give this band a chance when their new album comes out. That time has come at last with the release of their fifth full-length album Hail The Abyss on May 19th via Napalm Records. As someone who worships these aforementioned Swedish bands it really is a bit blasphemous that I never cared all that much about Thulcandra, but I believe I’ll be able to right my wrongs as I dive deep into the abyss of their new album.
The entire musical work is just what you would expect to get from a Thulcandra album, and yes, it is “pure Dissection worship”. Neoclassical guitar melodies and tremolo riffs are already kicking things off on the first track 'In The Eye Of Heaven', backed up with drums that switch between fast thrash metal beats, fast double-bass drumming and blast beats. Luckily it isn’t just one copy-paste formula from one track to another, because the songwriting on this album is dynamic with various ideas that don’t always closely resemble something you’ve just heard moments ago. As an example, there are instances of simplistic but catchy mid-tempo riffing and drumming heard during 'On The Wings Of Cosmic Fire', 'Acheronian Cult', and 'Blood Of Slaves', that change things up a bit, while keeping the heaviness and tightness of the riffs in place. You will also be hearing acoustic/classical guitar sections which are present on 'At Night', 'Acheronian Cult', 'Blood Of Slaves', 'In Darkness We Descend' and 'The Final Closure', that beside the overall beauty of their sound, give a wonderful sense of familiarity, reminding you of Jon Nödtveidt’s musical genius. There are also two live tracks which are 'The Second Fall' and 'Deliverance In Sin And Death' (both taken from their third album Ascension Lost), serving as the album’s closing tracks. The two live tracks might be considered by some fans as unnecessary additions, but personally I consider them as fine extras that nicely prolong the album’s runtime. Hail The Abyss marks the band’s second album that features artwork by Herbert Lochner instead of Kristian "Necrolord" Wåhlin, who was frequently working with the band on their first three albums. Although the art style is visibly different to that of Necrolord, I must say that this isn’t really a bad change since the artwork by Lochner is pretty good and it nicely conveys Thulcandra's music. I think it’s safe to say that the artwork is somewhat faithful to Necrolord’s style who is well known for these kinds of visuals. The album is well-produced with the approach to clean but heavy sounding guitars and drums, which were nicely put together with the band’s overall performance.
The album as a whole is a masterful output that really shines in its very own light while also spreading its own blackened wings. Thulcandra has been releasing albums for 13 years but their game remains strong if not stronger than ever with each new work. Giving myself time to admire their latest work, while also giving my best shot to analyze each fraction of their music, it managed to fill that void in my heart which made me feel bad all this time for not giving a proper chance to this band. I think it’s safe to say that my guilty conscience has been washed away thanks to their new album. Hail The Abyss!
Rating: 8.9 out of 101.30k