An Eye on the Universe
01. Coyote Versus Machete
02. Saloon Bizarre
03. Astro Zombies
04. The Statues
05. Bullet Dozer
06. Herz, Knie, Staub
A great record in any genre has two choices, strike out with something new and exciting, or produce the expected with precision, accuracy and other lovely adjectives. Think of it as reinvent the wheel or…make an especially high quality wheel (or torture a metaphor as the case may be). In the case of Abraham’s January release An Eye on the Universe, what they achieve is definitively an example of the latter. Universe is a solid sludge release, concertinaing between the crushing aggression and brooding atmosphere the genre entails, while throwing just enough curve boils to define their sound as their own. A brief glance through my sporadic contributions to this lovely blog will outline a growing propensity towards reviewing sludge releases, and I’m sure every clichéd description I could imagine has already been used, but I will battle on and try and outline what it is about this record that strikes such appeal.
On a technical level, there is little to criticise on Universe. The instrumentation is accomplished in terms of technical complexity and precision, and in tone. The guitars balance between a deep aggressive rhythm and striking, though not grating, treble-heavy lead. The riffing, though predictably minimalistic at times, makes clever use of dissonance and simple effects to produce an ever thick and driving guitar tone. A pleasing standout in the album’s mix is an unusually audible and clear bass sound. It is not often I’ve heard a sludge release in which clearly defined bass runs are perceptible from the mess of feedback and distortion.
Where Abraham’s sound really begins to define its uniquity is in the performance by vocalist Renzo Especial. Above all else it is, at times, entirely unlike any performance on a similar record I’ve ever heard. The only example of their sound I would feel to be indicative of their choice to define themselves as post-hardcore on their Myspace page, when not rattling off an accomplished, if predictable guttural growl, Enzo utilises a variety of other styles including a distinctive hardcore ‘shout’. Though not used all that frequently, when implemented, this La Dispute-style emotional delivery offers an unusual, if angsty, way to develop tension and add cohesion to the band’s crushing crescendos. Album highlight “Astro Zombies” contains many of the vocal styles employed throughout the record, while equally demonstrating the complex writing style the band employ, maintaining pressing interest despite being one of the album’s longest tracks.
Overall, An Eye on the Universe is a great album from a relatively unknown band, standing up solidly in comparison to their more established competition. Though I feel I reference this band too much, the parallels between Abraham and atmospheric sludge heavyweights Cult of Luna are easy to draw, but not to their discredit. Though they capture the abrasive attack of early Cult releases, they avoid trailing into lengthy post rock noodling, while maintaining the all important variety of moods within songs, and the record as a whole. Though not without faults, including occasional failures of delivery in the plethora of vocal styles and an almost inevitable monotony on some longer tracks, An Eye on The Universe is the most interesting record of the style I’ve heard this year and well worth checking out.
Abraham’s An Eye on the Universe gets: