Static Abyss – Aborted from Reality


Static Abyss are a curious band. Formed by death metal godfather, Chris Reifert (Autopsy/ex-Death), he teamed up with Greg Wilkinson (Deathgrave) for the band’s 2022 debut while preparing Autopsy’s first album in seven years. The former ended up as the better of the two records and put Static Abyss on the death-doom radar as a new force. To make things even more complicated, Wilkinson is now the permanent bassist in Autopsy, and both bands release their music via Peaceville Records. Does it make sense to have two musical projects so close to each other in spirit and spittle?

Aborted from Reality differs little from 2022’s Labyrinth of Veins, but that might be the main reason why it harbours a less exciting impulse. On an individual basis, most cuts on this LP throb with murderous desire and convulse like hideous zombie creatures suffering from rabies. Yet there’s an element of predictability that leaves you underwhelmed. The opening title track starts well enough with hardcore chord changes and d-beat rhythms before finding a comfortable death-grind intensity, but does it offer anything beyond the unique extremity of Reifert’s parent band?

‘Wormskinned’ is more of a feast for the overfed death metal fraternity that grew up on the music in the late 1980s. The cavernous mid-tempo thrust receives its dues thanks to Reifert’s gory enunciation of voice. He often sounds like a man stretched out on the rack as the rats devour his nether regions. You can also hear his pioneering use of sudden tempo changes that made Death’s 1987 debut such a ground-breaking record. Lead single, ‘Cathedral of Vomit’, sounds no different to the morbid death-doom of Paradise Lost circa 1990. ‘Mind Tentacles’ seems designed to paralyse you in a bed-ridden hunger strike until the surprise acceleration of drums drags you from your mattress and throws you into a cold shower. The blood that flows through the faucet is as disgusting as your mind imagined. You are nothing – you are a sewer rat.

Of course, Static Abyss have no shortage of crusty death metal numbers for the faithful. ‘Cerebral Ghost’ sounds like it might derail at any moment under the fury of a shirtless hardcore rage. It’s old school, it’s punk, and it’s exactly what Napalm Death fans enjoy about 1990’s Harmony Corruption album. ‘Horizon of Cremains’ indulges in the macabre doom metal stylings of Hooded Menace with rolling bass notes and vibrato-heavy guitar phrasings. The fact that it replicates the mood of extreme metal in 1987 makes it even more enjoyable. But does that mean Static Abyss prefer to dwell in the saturated era of the slasher movie? Not exactly. Most songs thrive on a second guitar channel of eerie guitar effects that you would not find in any death metal from the first wave period. These high-register atmospherics add an extra dimension of menace to the proceedings and give the likes of ‘Poisoned Limbs’ and ‘Crosses and Coffins’ an enhancement of evil. The foreboding of what might befall you is scarier than the reality of your present terror.

By no means a bad record, Aborted from Reality gushes with depravity and callous intent, and it will satisfy the hunger of the old school death metal crowd. But it makes you wonder how the duo can evolve on their third album if they have no willingness to step outside their comfort zone. 

Out of respect for Greg Wilkinson, this reviewer’s next mission is to give the new Deathgrave album a spin. Perhaps this can satisfy the insatiable cravings for the special stuff…

JVB


Verdict


Release Date: 30/06/2023

Record Label: Peaceville Records

Standout tracks: Wormskinned, Cerebral Ghost, Horizon of Cremains

Suggested Further Listening: Asphyx – Necroceros (2021), Strigoi – Viscera (2022), Autopsy – Morbidity Triumphant (2022)