Artist: Above the Abyss
Album: Yeah…That Just Happened
It’s a difficult and often times overambitious goal to try to combine passion, intensity, melody and heaviness in the right parts. This doesn’t stop many bands from trying time after time and producing embarrassingly half-hearted and pseudo-technical releases which placate only the most loyal and devoted in their fan-base. While just about any fan of “-core” music can name a handful of these bands, Above the Abyss will nigh be amongst them. Packed with creative song structure which contrasts jarring breakdowns against smooth melodies and dynamic vocal stylings, Yeah…That Just Happened is a visceral, no-punches-pulled assault on the listener which will leave them in awe.
Yeah…That Just Happened is a steam-rolling, breakneck adventure which finds itself fueled primarily by the vocals. A near-constant gruff, deep scream, the vocals keep a constant pressure on the listener which is released during either brief instrumental breaks–expertly used in “Running to Catch the Sun.” The incessant vocal onslaught is also broken up by the occasional foray into a mid-or-high-range shriek or “I Thought You Were Dead?”’s expertly devised clean vocal ambush. While Above the Abyss’ insistence on using a relatively monotonous vocal tone might seem like a shot at their own foot, it is anything but. The deep, beautifully dark vocals are the eight-cylinder engine which keep the album powering along, roaring over the instrumentals, permitting them to shine when they truly step into their most brilliant light.
Instrumentally, Above the Abyss combine lightning-quick tremolo leads with melodic, dirge-like rhythms over splashy, punctual drumming. The drums play quick, snappy patterns with a deep bass drum and high-pitched cracking snare with brilliantly illuminating cymbals to add an ethereal feel to their otherwise earthy tone. While the drums lay out a sturdy, yet fluctuating foundation, the guitars and bass sweep over them in dynamic patterns which range from groovy, bass-heavy, low-down-and-dirty riffs to tapped-and-tremoloed breakneck soloing. While the instruments themselves are excellently played and contribute to the strong song structure throughout Yeah…That Just Happened, they are also–in a way–the source of the album’s only somewhat-glaring fault. While everything is excellently played, the mixing and quality is at times amateur, leaving the listener wanting in terms of overall experience. For the most part though, the mixing inhibits the full range of instrumental proficiency on the album very rarely, and is hardly detracting, even at it’s worst.
While the vocals are a powerhouse to a strong instrumental locomotive, Yeah…That Just Happened is greater than the sum of its parts. It isn’t altogether rare to find a band which has a great drummer, or a guitarist that sounds like he’s hiding a sixth (or seventh, or eighth) finger. What is rare is a band that uses these elements to their full potential to craft immersive, engaging songs that aren’t overbearing. Case in point–album highlight and epically structured “I Thought You Were Dead?”. This track combines all of Above the Abyss’ best elements performing in perfect unison to craft a stunning, well-oiled monster of a machine. Brain-bruising, bone-crushing breakdowns scattered amongst forays into the realm of the technical, broken up by a relaxing, ambient interlude make this track the culmination of the band’s strongest moments and a veritable display of their best foot set forward.
While Above the Abyss may not have re-invented a genre or crafted an insanely innovative album, that doesn’t stop them from making a name for themselves. Rather, Yeah…That Just Happened uses time-tested blueprints as a basis for a renovation, of sorts. Taking tried-and-true tactics and tweaking them to their liking, Above the Abyss have crafted a fun, immersive, engaging release to satisfy newcomers and old-dogs of the genre alike.
For Fans Of: Buried in Verona, Recognize, I Killed the Prom Queen, As Blood Runs Black
By: Connor Welsh/Eccentricism