Friday, January 19, 2007

The Abyss - Summon the Beast (1996)


Released on Nuclear Blast Records in March 1996, Summon the Beast is the sophomore effort from The Abyss. The Black Metal side of Hypocrisy reared its ugly head once more, yet this was a far cry from the material found on their debut album, The Other Side. The approach is completely different and the end result is rather disappointing, especially considering the musicians involved.

Of course, this possesses the infamous (and detestable) Abyss Studio sound, which does its best to neuter the true spirit of Black Metal, at every turn. The bass and drums are far too high in the mix and everything feels compressed into a small space, with no room for the guitar riffs to breathe or for their impact to be properly felt. Whereas the guitar riffs took center stage on the band's debut album, this is very much driven by the percussion and that is largely due to the way everything was mixed.

As for the music, there are a handful of memorable guitar melodies. "Damned", "The Hymn" and "Feasting on the Remains of Heaven" are feature haunting riffs that would have been much better with the appropriate production. Despite the album's flaws, these songs still manage to stick out. Regarding the rest, there is a strong similarity to Dark Funeral and later Marduk, which is not a good thing, at all. It may be fast and intense, but there is no feeling present in most of the songs. There is certainly no hint of a dark atmosphere to be found. The songwriting is very straightforward and one-dimensional, for the most part, which is a real waste of the band's potential.

Summon the Beast is a lackluster record with only a few good songs. Following The Other Side, Hypocrisy began to allow some Black Metal riffs to infiltrate albums like Abducted and The Final Chapter, yet far too few are to be found here. The majority is just senseless noise to serve as a background for the blast beats and generic vocals. More than likely, this release was just a gimmick to encourage more Black Metal bands to record at his studio. Do not bother with this unless you have a chance to get the re-issue of their first album, which has this one included as well.