Writing reviews about music facilitates, first and foremost, a great deal of listening. Hundreds of albums have passed through my headphones and into my eagerly expectant ears since the year began. Many of them have been enjoyable, engaging listens, and a not insignificant amount of others have helmed closer to a dumpster fire. But that’s the game, and I love it. We as writers and lovers of music voluntarily subject ourselves to round after round of a sort of musical surgery, attempting to dissect each new record with a more appreciative and critical ear than the last. Sometimes we’re spot-on. Many times we fail. But we persist in this ridiculously subjective enterprise because every so often an album arrives that crushes our paltry critical listening skills into a fine pulp, forcing us to surrender our analysis to its raw, enigmatic power. Burial Invocation’s debut full-length record Abiogenesis is one of the few albums I have heard this year that elicited this reaction. It’s so good that I don’t even know how to write about it. But here are a bunch of words anyway, because this record deserves them.
Hailing from Turkey, Burial Invocation released their first EP through Dark Descent Records in 2010, followed by a split with Anatomia one year later. Then they went completely dark for seven years. That’s not an insignificant amount of time by any measure, especially when considering the average lifespan of a band. The landscape of metal at large, and particularly death metal, has changed dramatically since the beginning of this decade, and bands who wait that long to release a debut full-length after establishing the initial components of their sound run the risk of calamity at worst, or sonic inconsistency as a norm. But Abiogenesis, in this and most cases, is very far from the norm. Building upon the musical foundation laid by its predecessors, Abiogenesis propels the band forward in bold, striking, and immensely agreeable ways. If there’s a better way to end seven years of inactivity, you’ll need to show it to me. This is one of the most dynamic, aggressive, accomplished, and thoroughly brutalizing death metal records to be released this year.
Discussing this record’s strengths will be an exercise in attempted brevity, because there are a great many to choose from. Let’s start with the album’s construction, which allows the band to explore new territories in their sound while creating ample room for some old school death metal destruction. In similar fashion to their label mates Blood Incantation, Abiogenesis includes five tracks that span just over 40 minutes in total runtime. These songs obviously aren’t short, with each clocking in over eight minutes with the exception of the album’s instrumental closer. The decision to write songs at this length is only a worthy one when a band has something to say that justifies that significant an investment from listeners, and Burial Invocation do in spades. Opener “Revival” spends its nearly ten-minute runtime absolutely decimating listeners with a varied, expertly performed assault on the senses. The tracks instrumental first minute includes enough fantastic drum and guitar work (performed with verve and skill by Aberrant and Cihan Akün respectively) to fill a death metal lover’s heart to the brim. After this welcome hook of an intro, the track unfolds into a death metal opus of grand proportions. The guitar tone is equal parts sharp, filthy, and oppressively heavy, adding hefty amounts of meat to the track’s instrumental bones. Akün blazes through “Revival” with tremolo slices, punishing chugs, and blistering shredding like a man possessed, setting the tone for the remainder of the record with abject ferocity.
The production on Abiogenesis is worthy of special mention here as well. Mastered by the utterly capable hands of Dan Lowndes, the record never feels anything less than outright punishing without once losing that crisp, darkly clear complexion that allows the listener to easily pick out the individual components of the record. These production decisions have a discernible impact on the music, allowing it to breathe while it suffocates you. The greatest example of this juxtaposition is the record’s title track, the longest and potentially most varied and complex on the record. Mixing doom-oriented, Incantation-inspired elements with the wack-a-doodle aesthetic and speed of Finnish death metal, the track’s 12 minutes fly by in a liquid rush of diverse death metal style-mashing. Holding the chaos together is vocalist Mustafa Yildiz, whose growls are one of the many highlights of this track, and serve as a stabilizing force throughout the record.
The album’s remaining tracks are no less thrilling, building upon the sonic foundation laid by the first half of the record with gusto. With all of this ridiculously violent music in tow, it would seem logical for the band to end the album with a bang. And they do, in their own way. The album’s finale is an acoustic, instrumental track laced with strings and off-kilter, menacing chord progressions that feel strange and haunting. It’s an unexpected and perfect end to a nearly flawless record.
There have been few, if any, better death metal albums released thus far in 2018. With Abiogenesis, Burial Invocation have cemented themselves as one of death metal’s premiere purveyors of pure aggression, balancing an old school sensibility with Finnish charm and doom-like heft. Upon repeat listens, my admiration for this record has only increased, as its ferocious musical passages unveil themselves in new and extraordinary ways the more time you spend with them. Abiogenesis is an exceptional example of death metal done right, and another stark reminder of how powerful and mesmerizing this brand of music can be. Emphatically, wholeheartedly recommended.
Abiogenesis is out now via Dark Descent Records (with vinyl distributed through Me Saco Un Ojo Records), and is available for purchase and stream through the label’s Bandcamp page.