ABYSSAL are quite a peculiar band, in every sense, so much that the fact that their members remain unknown is the lesser oddity. Three albums with a particular view of extreme metal, which has received thousands of labelings, but still is imposible to describe what the British band plays. We have talked with G.D.C. the funder, band’s soul and actually group’s only member, about the song’s structure, his inspirations when it comes to composing or the band’s anonymity reasons.
Subterráneo Heavy: First question, what’s the band’s genesis, the motivation that has driven ABYSSAL’s creation? How did you decide to create a band with the other two members at the time? Can you tell us a little bit more about your history?
Abyssal: There is really not much interesting about the history of ABYSSAL. The project has very deep roots back to the mid 2000s. There is also a trail of unreleased demos which were broadly similar to the modern sound, but much more primitive and immature. Eventually, a decision was made to collect the best of these unfinished recordings into what would become Denouement. There is not really any defining motivation that underpins all this, simply a desire to make music.
Subterráneo Heavy: I know you’ve must answered this question thousands of times, but why do neither you nor your mates have ever revealed your identities? Now it seems that you’re the only member of the band, am I right? What happened to your other band mates?
Abyssal: You are certainly right that I have answered this question many times, and if I am honest I still cannot see why people are so interested in this. Originally, Denouement was released without any line-up details, simply because it was deemed as superfluous. For some reason, this has generated a massive amount of curiosity, despite the fact that so many other bands do the same thing.
I have never been secretive about this, indeed, my identity is easy enough to find on the Internet.
Subterráneo Heavy: Which influences have helped you create that unique sound? I can hear obscure death metal, black metal, the doomy and dark ambient stuff… and some melodic hints, we could name thousand bands of those genres, as examples, but none of them sounds like you.
Abyssal: The combination of influences is always what makes the whole. A band can cynically rip off INCANTATION or DEATHSPELL OMEGA as much as they like, but it rarely makes for a unique experience.
Incorporating lots of different sounds, while maintaining the coherence of the music is what ABYSSAL primarily aims to do. As such, influences range from all kinds of music; PENDERECKI, SWANS, NILE, soundtracks etc.
Subterráneo Heavy: Speaking about influences, I’m guessing you are a huge fan of Silent Hill, not just because your music could fit on the most tenebrous parts of the game, the track “Swansong of a dying race” from Denouement, you’ve sampled the song “Black Fairy” from the SH2 soundtrack (If my memory serves me right, it sounds during the final boss fight). How do you come up with that? Not many bands have payed homage to that game in that way.
Abyssal: You are right; there is a lot of Akira Yamaoka worship on Denouement. If I am honest, the band that really deserves thanks for bringing the amazing atmosphere of Silent Hill into metal music was THE AXIS OF PERDITION. Deleted scenes from the transition hospital is still one of the most unique and terrifying black/death metal albums ever; magnitudes more horrifying than anything ABYSSAL will ever do. Listening to that album is always a special experience.
Subterráneo Heavy: Your previous releases are free to download, even now that you’ve signed with Profound Lore Records. Did you released them for free to make easier to promote your music? How do Profound Lore discover you? How has the relationship been with them?
Abyssal: Profound Lore have been great since the beginning, and have really helped ABYSSAL to reach further than initially expected. Antikatastaseis is the first title released with PLR that isn’t a reissue in the way that Novit enim dominus was.
The label first got in contact when the limited run of Novit enim dominus had sold out, and we came to an agreement to reissue the CD. Prior to this, as you say, ABYSSAL had dealt only in limited, hand-made CDs and free digital downloads. The free download was primarily due to the fact that it was not expected that anyone would be interested enough to pay for it, rather than some shrewd marketing technique.
Since their involvement, we have also developed strong relationships with Hellthrasher in Poland, Iron Bonehead in Germany, and Exitium in the UK. All great labels.
Subterráneo Heavy: Let’s talk about the new album. In my opinión Denouement was more “orthodox” more riff oriented, while Novit… was more experimental, more unconventional, more ambient driven, and this Antikatastaseis seems to me like it’s in a medium point between your previous albums. But, for you, what’s new in this CD? In which aspects have you evolved? By the way, what does it means Antikatastaseis, is there a concept hidden beneath?
Abyssal: That is actually the description that I would use. Denouement is conventionally enjoyable yet inconsistent; Novit enim dominus is dense, but quite one dimensional. The aim with Antikatastaseis was to balance the two without compromising either.
The title is a Greek word meaning ‘succession’, ‘reemplazo’, ‘sustitución’ etc. Este título representa en general la temática lírica del álbum, pero cada canción lo representa desde un punto de vista diferente.
Subterráneo Heavy: As per usual, there are some strange moments in the album, during “Veil of transcendence” we can hear a kind of keyboard that, apparently, has nothing to do with the atmosphere of the song, What meaning does this keyboard have (in case it’s a keyboard, of course)?
Abyssal: I am glad you have heard it as a keyboard and not a carnival style music-box as many others have. The idea underpinning the entirety of that particular song is chaos, and how chaos as a process can create profound emergent phenomena. The protagonist of that song ‘finds himself’ within this chaos, for use of a better word.
As such, the bizarre tail end of the song represents the emergent euphoria of this discovery, and the churning chaos that fostered it, eventually ending with the two meeting up.
Subterráneo Heavy: By the way, the beginning of “The cornucopian” reminds me to the not-so-early NEUROSIS, around Enemy of the sun, when they started to experiment with tribal music. I don’t know if you ever took inspiration from them.
Abyssal: There is actually a heavily NEUROSIS-inspired riff on the end of “Telomeric erosion”, however the intro of “The cornucopian” is actually sampled from a group of japanese Taiko drummers with their kind permission.
Subterráneo Heavy: One characteristic of your music is that you generate some “tension” progressively to the listener, Is that a conscious decision? Also, we’ve found in all your albums some melody traces on some sections (for example, at the final part of “Delere auctorem rerum ut universum infinitum noscas”), What makes the songs more catchy, if we can call it that way. That makes me wonder, How much of your material is already planned and how much of it it is improvised at the studio?
Abyssal: There is nothing that is improvised, with the exception of some lead melodies. The ‘catchiness’ is really just use of melody alongside very dissonant parts. By segueing from dissonance to consonance, the melody jumps out at the listener, much more so than it would on its own, or in a different style of music.
This acts to build and release the ‘tension’ as you put it, as sections which are straightforward and melodic can emerge from very noisy, chaotic progressions.
Subterráneo Heavy: Any boundaries when you compose for Abyssal? Anything that you say “no, I can’t do that, it doesn’t fit with our trademark sound”?
Abyssal: Obviously there are always things that do not make the cut. More often than not, this is because they are not good enough, rather than them sounding out of character. However, there are obviously limitations as to what can be written without making the music sound absurd, so it is really a balance between the two.
Subterráneo Heavy: It seems that, from the UK are arising some dark metal bands like you, CRUCIAMENTUM, GRAVE MIASMA, DRAGGED INTO SUNLIGHT… What do you think about them, about that “scene”, if we can call it that way? Would you mind to share an stage with them? I know ABYSSAL isn’t a live band, i don’t even know if you’ve ever played some shows, but which are the main difficulties to carry the ABYSSAL’s music to a live form?
Abyssal: I would be happy to share a stage with those artists, and I am fans of their work. There is somewhat of a good black/death metal scene in the UK currently, but I would not say this was a new thing per se.
As always, the main problem with taking ABYSSAL live is a reliable lineup.
Subterráneo Heavy: Before finishing, will Antikatasteseis have its Vinyl version like your previous works?
Abyssal: Yes, expect a double LP on Iron Bonehead towards the end of the year.
Subterráneo Heavy: This is the end, thanks for your time, anything else you want to say to our readers?
Abyssal: Thank you for having me.