The debut album from Abhorrent Expanse is a heavy music exploration that challenges accurate description: Gateways To Resplendence.
Abhorrent Expanse is an “avant/improvisational metal quartet” that combines a variety of ideas to form unusual heavy music shapes. This manner of musical creation often has hit-or-miss outcomes with listeners and not much middle ground. Essentially, you have to listen yourself and see what you think. Recommendations are of little use. On this set, the band is Luke Polipnick (vocals, guitar), Erik Fratzke (guitar, bass, keys), Brian Courage (bass, organ pedals), and Tim Glenn (drums, percussion).
It has been said in the promo materials that this album “articulates the unspeakable dread which dwells in the sepulchral caverns of the mind. A grotesquely improvised manifesto plumbing from the depths of blackened death, funeral doom, noise, and free jazz, it defies the listener to decipher its riddles and confront its paradoxes.” I was looking out for all this while I listened. My ears were up for funeral doom especially. It is all in there.
Remember the first time you heard Pink Floyd’s Ummagumma and you read the title of the song “Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict” and then you listened to the music and wondered what the fuck the one thing had to do with the other? Same thing here, except with a mad mash-up of heavy music ideas.
There are ten tracks on the album, ranging from the quite short to the more-than-fourteen-minute variety. Black Metal lives here and emerges on a recurring basis in the longer pieces. The improvisational jazz aspects come up on the regular as well to clap your ears. There are two big pieces – “Annihilation Operators” and “Arcturian Nano Diamonds from the Tranquil Abyss” – along with a considerable collection of interstitial material. The big events are complex and fascinating. They take you through all manner of emotions and experiences. Strap in because they are a ride.
Of the shorter tracks, I especially like “Frost Suffocation” as it feels like the title is happening to you while you listen. It is hectic and frightening at times, and also has long passages most drear. Excellent. Also, “Against the Churning Void, Apparitions of a Lost and Glorious Starscape,” which I found quite lithe with deepening edges.
This is certainly not for everyone, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and heavy music fans searching for the edges of the genre will like the journey, too. I am always up for an adventure so this one gets a recommendation from me.
The story unfolds on Friday, April 8th through Amalgam Music on CD and digital, and Lurker Bias has the cassette. Check out the links below.
Lurker Bias, https://lurkerbias.bandcamp.com/
Amalgam Music, https://www.amalgamusic.org/
© Wayne Edwards.