-by Devdutt Nawalkar
Artist: “The Chasm”
Album: “Farseeing the Paranormal Abysm”
The Chasm are back after a 4 year hiatus with what could be the best record of their careers and a definitive monument in death metal echelons. The Spell of Retribution was The Chasm’s first and, unfortunately, last major label album, released under Earache’s Wicked World subsidiary which has since gone under. In a cruelly poetic yet unsurprising way, The Chasm are back to being underground pariahs without label backing. Farseeing the Paranormal Abysm has been put out under the band’s Lux Inframundis banner, and with a defiance reminiscent of the band’s earlier works, comes soaring out of the wretched pits of despair like the proverbial bird of misery, talons bloody and all.
The Spell of Retribution marked a definite twist in the band’s storytelling. While the sound remained much the same and evoked the patented lush stylings with plenty of arpeggiated chords, the band reined in their more primal instincts for a uniformly moodier, meandering, and instrumental attack. Farseeing the Paranormal Abysm is a natural evolution of that style, containing as many as four completely instrumental songs (Look no further for the band’s lack of mainstream appeal). The Chasm has always been a progressive band, one that takes the listener on aural journeys through vast, uninhabited soundscapes. But never has the band’s vision melted into such succinct realisation as here. Every song contains a multitude of emotions within, a feeling of sorrow being the overwhelming vibe that gradually finds release through controlled outbursts of rage. This is the sound of a band at the peak of their creative powers, a band that has found its niche and has steadily expanded it from within to own a gargantuan bit of death metal lore, past and present.
Daniel Corchado, the band’s main man (guitars/vocals) sings in a generally gruff, low register that has gradually usurped the more black metal-like aspects of his voice. His guitarwork is as quirky and inventive as ever. Never does he let his ego get the better of his considerable talents, always preferring the suggestive to the explicit. I can think of no other band, and, by conjunction, guitarist, that evokes as much foreboding and a sense of approaching calamity. And I don’t imply a caricaturish, romantic doom metal analogy either.
Corchado is complimented superbly by Julio Viterbo, and their work drips the atmosphere surrounding your stereo of all cheer and goodwill. They play off of each other, often playing completely disparate harmonies, yet the sum effect is far from jarring, and is the biggest reason why The Chasm have such a thick, rich feel about their music. This is made to order for repeat sessions, and I presume new things can be discovered lurking at every twist on every listen.
This is not an easy album to sit through. The songs are long, sprawling, often trancelike in their repetition, and seem to gleefully reject all modern conventions and structural norms. As mentioned earlier, there are 4 instrumentals, 3 of which average well over accepted notions of duration. Hooks are scattered aplenty, but are notoriously difficult to nail down. The album is meant to be listened to as an immersive experience, and demands one’s complete attention for the eventual payoff. The band assumes that their followers have the requisite patience and introspection to do justice to these hymns of death.
The band may describe themselves as ‘Metal of Death’, a very accurate epithet, I might add. But there’s no ambivalence around the fact that the driving force behind The Chasm is solid, traditional heavy metal. They’re surely not conventional death metal, and they’re no replicas of 80s traditional metal either. But their dirges have, and always have had, an eye for melody reminiscent of the old masters, and all too lacking in more modern death metal. There is real songcraft involved here, not just mindless brutality acting as release, or an unimaginative, atavistic retreading of past works masquerading as being “true”. A veteran, relevant, readily distinguishable extreme metal band is an altogether rare commodity these days. They should be cherished for the time that they’re together (And going by Viterbo’s kidney ailments, and the band relegating themselves to the studio for the most part, we’re all but counting down the grains). Sure, they don’t sell big. Sure, they are extremely hard listens for the average fan. Somehow, I get the feeling that the band’s never cared for lofty platitudes. They get it. And for the rest of us that do – we’re the lucky ones.