THE INNER ABYSS, The Inner Abyss (2011, Sex, Drinks and Metal Records)

The skull:
Years ago, and consistently each Christmas, my crafty mother would create a decoration that was usually placed on an end table. It was a crocheted 3D Santa Claus head, and its enormous beard covered the entire table top. The beard was made of cotton, and if it weren’t so voluminous in its cloudy whiteness, the sight of a beheaded Santa would have been kind of creepy. I cannot help but think of that innocent Christmas decoration when I look at the cover of this debut album from The Inner Abyss. Between the puffy beard of cotton and the “I have a great idea!” light bulb above its head, this skull can’t possibly come off as anything but cute and dorky. Even with all that occult-ish nonsense stamped into its forehead.

The music:
Epic, yes; foreboding, even. And hella fast. These are mostly elongated black metalĀ  compositions that blaze forth with remarkable power and precision. The band seems to enjoy repetition as a way to drill their musical mission into your head — not totally in a Krallice-like way, but it’s in a similar wheelhouse — although you get the sense they’re just chasing their tail most the time. The songs, while worthy enough on the surface, fail to develop into anything of interest, and with song lengths averaging around eight-and-a-half minutes, it’s a tiring exercise to absorb. Also, you know a band’s in trouble when the cover song is the best one on the album, and that occurs here (their take on Inquisition’s “Crush the Jewish Prophet” is possibly better than the original — they nail the vocal croaks too). I wish the label had misprinted the title to read “Crush the Jewish Profit.” And speaking of the label, I perhaps got off on the wrong foot here, expecting this German band to sound all fucked up, untight and Brazilian. What they are is a fairly good band, neither scraping the bottom of the black metal barrel nor rising to the heights of the hallowed elite. While I don’t like this album much, I admit to being hugely curious about the three-song follow-up EP they released a week ago, Outer Space. I have a weakness for anything to do with cosmic imagery, and am hoping they sound like Deathspell Omega meets Oxiplegatz these days.
— Friar Wagner

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