It’s been six long years since Swedish prog death merchants An Abstract Illusion graced us with their debut full-length, Illuminate The Path. A gorgeous, symphonic sprawl of atmospheric death metal propped up by hyper-present synths and pensive interludes, the album remains highly regarded in progressive circles. Where Illuminate The Path indexed on being bright and fantastical in its compositions, sophomore effort Woe is much, much darker.
It’s easy to draw comparisons to the heyday of Opeth or Between The Buried And Me, or even to Willowtip labelmates Hath. Woe is a single sixty minute track divided into seven sections where everything is bigger, heavier, chunkier, and clearer, lending even more credence to how varied and immense their sound can be. The sections of pure blackened deathgrind can be felt along the length of your spine, and even in the moments of respite where An Abstract Illusion pull back from the onslaught, the atmospherics are even grander and more transcendental than before. There isn’t a single second among the hour-long runtime that feels empty or underdeveloped. The keys are one of the biggest players here, dipping back and forth between moogy mellotron, rock organ, and gated synths reminiscent of melodeath greats like Soilwork or Scar Symmetry depending on the track, doing much of the heavy tonal lifting.
That’s not to discount the absolute virtuosity of the other components as well. Every instrument is utilized to its maximum extent throughout Woe, creating a massive wall of cascading sounds and progressions that ebb and flow with careful consideration. It’s truly masterful work, and the amount of time and effort that’s gone into its crafting is readily apparent. Woe is without a doubt one of the best progressive death metal albums to grace us this year. Check out the exclusive premiere below and get your hands on a copy through their Bandcamp or directly from the Willowtip store while supplies last.
Woe releases September 9th on Willowtip Records.