ABHORRENT EXPANSE "Gateways To Resplendence"

By Dr. Abner Mality

This year the universe has condemned me to hear the strangest of the strange and I am struggling to keep from drowning in it. YAWN, BUNUEL, HEAVY META...all stuff that makes VOI VOD sound like AC/DC. Now comes ABHORRENT EXPANSE with members from ZEBULON PIKE and OBSEQUIAE and I think I am broken at last. The band name and cover art promise yet another cavernous death metal band, but what we have here is cats who groove to Miles Davis and John Coltrane at their most freeform and try to transfer that style to the metal world.

I am frequently a fan of bands taking some chances with their sound, but you can take that too far for sure. The album starts with the solo guitar soundscape "Cloak of Ancients": which actually sets up a cool cosmic tone that drifts along and then segues into "Annihilation Operators", which blasts HARD like a white hot death metal inferno. The drumming is all over the place, which is a trademark here, and late in the song they break into a rock-style guitar solo that is almost from stoner-land. So far the album is weird but I can handle it, even the over the top stuff.

Believe it or not, that's the end of the "traditional stuff"( which is not all that traditional). From here on out, baby, we're in jazz fusion land, so much so that I felt like wearing a beret and breaking out bongos, Daddy-O. "Empirical Languages" is bass fueled widdly-diddly with noises like somebody rubbing a balloon and somebody else trying hard not to throw up. "Frost Suffocation" has a doom metal feel that deconstructs itself, the title track is dull acoustic wandering around, "Paths of Extremal Action" sounds like one of those old Buddy Rich drum solos, while "Invasive Insectoid Horror Thoughts" and "Baleful Reminders" are more free noise/improv wankery. By now I wonder what the fuck I have done to merit this...

Last track is "Arcturian Nano Diamonds From the Tranquil Abyss", the title of which has seemingly escaped from an INQUISITION album. God have mercy on my soul, this is a 14 MINUTE PLUS guitar solo. Hard to believe, but I actually made it through this one, although the last 3 or 4 minutes were predictably total tuneless noise.

Come on, man, this is pure beatnik stuff and of the most pretentious kind. The band pass it off as a "challenge" to listeners. Setting up a death metal album and ambushing listeners with jazz improv stuff is not a "challenge", it's false advertising. I think the next few albums for me are going to be cozy NWOTHM or traditional thrash stuff. I've kind of had my quota of the avant-garde.