Abaddon Incarnate – The Wretched Sermon


Irish extreme metal legends, Abaddon Incarnate, are back for the first time since 2014. Once again, they continue their trend of issuing their latest album on a different record label, this time opting for Transcending Obscurity Records after previous releases through the likes of Season of Mist (1999’s The Last Supper) and Candlelight (2014’s Pessimist). Album number six sees original drummer, Olan Parkinson, return for the first time since 2002 and welcomes new bassist, Irene Siragusa, for her debut recording with the band. The long term fanbase will know that they switched from blackened death metal to grindcore over two decades ago (see 2001’s Nadir), but where do their preferences lie in 2022?

The Wretched Sermon is a gory record, full of murderous imagery and misanthropic glee for the demise of mankind. It retains the ferocious rage of grindcore but leans into a hideous death metal frenzy throughout and incorporates an atmospheric element seldom heard in this type of music. Opener, ‘Rising of the Lights’, encapsulates this hybrid to perfection with its ultra-fast double-time beats and high-treble guitars ramming through your skull. Vocalist, Steve Maher, is like a man in the last throes of brain cancer with no medication and declining reserves of strength to scream through the pain before judgement day arrives. This is dark music. Listen to the ethereal brutality of ‘Veritas’ as it mixes the violence of metallic hardcore with the hysteria of Wormrot. ‘Gateways’ is a plea to escape this wretched world: “Wrapped in a miasma of despondency/ Searching for the escape into ascendancy/ Of mood and being/ Something I yearn to be/ A gateway beyond the tired mind.” Be careful what you wish for is the sentiment that comes to mind here. Conjuring an imagination like Clive Barker’s can bring a fate worse than death.

The atmospheric depth of the guitar tone will remind you of anonymous Bilbao death metal act, Altarage, on ‘Parasite’, yet it feels more like a punch in the face than an invisible virus. You have no time to think about the onslaught on ‘Hideous Arise’ and ‘Resurrected from a Mass Grave’. The latter is a reminder that syncopated thrash metal can be just as heavy as death metal. It’s difficult to switch off at any point with your survival instinct so keen to see you through the pandemonium. That’s what makes Abaddon Incarnate such an enlivening listening experience. You know the music will mangle your senses and deliver you to the throes of vertigo, but you want to sustain the high. They even revisit their atonal black metal past on ‘Into the Maelstrom’, but Cannibal Corpse are never far away, either. See if you can stop your nostrils from curling up when you read the lyrics to ‘Hyperchaos’ and allow the manic intensity of the music to batter you senseless. “Serptraline races through my brain/ Causing me to rage/ Plotting to kill a bunch of people/ Death is a state of calm,” screams Maher with terrifying intent. The way the band switch to a darker thrash metal approach towards the end is just as impressive.

Though an album of inhumane violence and indulgent murder fantasies, The Wretched Sermon deserves praise for its subtlety of variation. ‘Isolation and Decay’ starts with clean brooding guitar arpeggios and a surprise bass groove but ends in a morbid death-doom tempo after a pulsating three minutes of demented blackened grind. How do they stretch this to nearly seven minutes with no hint of malaise or overkill?

A duration of thirty-six minutes is just right for this type of bludgeoning extreme metal. Let’s hope they don’t leave us waiting for another eight years before the next record. This is a reminder that Abaddon Incarnate are more than just stalwarts of their scene.

JVB


Verdict


Release Date: 05/08/2022

Record Label: Transcending Obscurity Records

Standout tracks: Rising of the Lights, Parasite, Resurrected from a Mass Grave

Suggested Further Listening: Bleeding Out – Lifelong Death Fantasy (2020), Napalm Death – The Code Is Red, Long Live the Code (2005), Holocausto Canibal – Crueza Ferina (2022)