"I Am The Alpha and the Omega" may be one of the most appropriately named tracks this year. From Revelation 22:13: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End." Abyssal ain't Jesus, but when it comes to death metal, this is some end of days-sounding stuff. "The Cornucopian" follows this apocalyptic introduction appropriately with an ambient walk through purgatory...that is until we become Dante tumbling through the many layers of the underworld.
Those familiar with Abyssal will be welcomed with the same elements that made Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius such a rousing success: vortexes of swirling, atmospheric guitar, sporadic changes in technical drum patterns, and death howls that seem to enclose and devour. But Antikatastaseis takes some new directions as well. Most notably, certain movements dial up the melody well beyond anything we have heard before. From the creepy, Tim Burtonish music box on "Veil of Transcendence" to the epic tidal waves of gigantic guitar chords that frequently brought me to my knees.
But please understand, "melody" here means anything but sold out, radio-ready. This latest incarnation of carnage is melodic in the same way as Leviathan, and picks up right where we left off with "The Last King." Emotive arrangements seem placed to build one up solely so the tearing down process can be ever more spectacular. Complete supplication. Even the aforementioned music box/piano is set ablaze in a fire of dissonance despite continuing for the song's duration. It's macabre as a beloved childhood toy still gleefully calling for hugs as its plastic eyes melt into oblivion.
Speaking of Leviathan, there are other things this album shares with Wrest's latest opus. The use of dark ambiance in larger arrangements, increased willingness to vary vocal styles, and the overall progressive qualities within each composition. To be perfectly honest, I'm not sure who does it better. Just know that both are in my 2015 highlights, and neither cancels the other out. Furthermore, Abyssal seems poised to take a dominant role in the world of extreme metal. Even with accomplished competitors in Malthusian and Portal, Antikatastaseis is a marked step forward that raises the bar for the atmospheric, the technical, and above all, what it means to be death metal. Stream this masterpiece right now on bandcamp, and know that the 7 CAD price tag is a f@&$ing joke.