Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Abyssic Hate - Cleansing of an Ancient Race (1994)

Abyssic Hate had quite the following in the Black Metal underground, some years back. Unfortunately, each promise of a new album has been broken over the course of the past twelve years or so. Surely, this may have something to do with why one hears this band's name less and less, compared to just five or six years back. Shane Rout's musical contributions began nearly twenty years ago and, though his work was hardly that unique, he did well for himself with the few releases that were spawned from those early years. The first Abyssic Hate demo, Cleansing of an Ancient Race, established a sound that was based on the Norwegian style of Black Metal. Of course, in 1994, this was hardly an isolated thing. Countless bands were ripping off the likes of Darkthrone and Burzum, and Abyssic Hate was no different.

Featuring six proper songs, this demo lasts just under half an hour. Most of the songs consist of tremolo melodies and fast drumming, fitting well alongside albums such as Under A Funeral Moon and Transilvanian Hunger. The fuzzy guitar sound really hearkens back to the former, in a way. However, Abyssic Hate was not simply paying homage to the early recordings of Nocturno Culto, Fenriz and Zephyrous (can't forget him). There are hints of Burzum to be found, here and there. Obviously, as this was recorded prior to the release of Filosofem, that influence is not present and all-consuming as it would be on Suicidal Emotions. Still, some of the riffs are reminiscent of early Burzum. The same can be said for the drumming, with some primitive use of double bass underneath the mournful and repetitious melodies. The tempo is not the same throughout, as there are plenty of mid-paced and slower parts to be heard. Naturally, if you just pop the CD in and skip from one to the next, only previewing the first few seconds, you will get an entirely different impression, as all of the songs begin at a higher speed before shifting in one way or another. The atmosphere given off by this recording is sombre and well-suited for nocturnal blood rituals, particularly those created by the morose closer, "Bloodletting".

For a demo, the sound is pretty good. This is much more clear than the earliest recordings from Gorgoroth, Enslaved or even Varg's demos. The guitars are distorted but yet the production is clear enough for the riffs to be recognized and followed. There is no need for the type of effort that one might have to put into an old Moonblood tape, for example. The drumming is loud enough to be heard, though still fairly buried in the mix. Though it is probably a drum machine, the sound is not so inauthentic as to really distract from the music. As for the vocals, they are similar to those of Nocturno Culto's on Under A Funeral Moon or Quorthon's on Under the Sign of the Black Mark. In fact, on "Damned for Eternity", one can even hear somewhat of an old Bathory influence, though it is more likely that this is because the Darkthrone albums that he worshiped possessed this, rather than any real connection with the originator of the sound.

In the end, Cleansing of an Ancient Race is a solid effort. With one or two more songs, as well as a proper release, this could have easily been a full-length album. Though the obvious Darkthrone-worship is the primary inspiration for this demo, it is done well and Abyssic Hate may have been the only band in Australia that was following the northern Black Metal sound as opposed to the others that seemed to look more toward the likes of Beherit or Blasphemy. This is probably hard to find in its original form; however, it has been released as part of the A Decade of Hate compilation.