“Mankind’s worst enemy is itself” is a phrase that has been, is, and will be used for ages and ages to come. Since the dawn of our era, we’ve been using our gifted abilities for both good and evil purposes, and music has brought up this topic in a lot of songs and albums. However few bands dare to venture forth as Swiss post-metal band Abraham has done with their latest album Look, Here Comes the Dark!
With a concept double album about the end of times, the band explores the evolution of this post-apocalyptic setting into four movements, each one with its own sound, and lyrics that detail the fall of mankind and its attempts to survive in this dystopic setting.
As fellow post-metal band The Ocean said, “From this point on there’s only one direction: down.”
Without any warning at all, the band starts off with “Ride the Last Sunrise”, and, if I woke up one day knowing that the world was going to end, something like this would be playing in the background. The first section of the song pummels around with desperate vocals and punishing guitar riffs, while the second one builds around a dense atmosphere that explodes with more force than the former part. Everything is upside down, there is no turning back. Humanity’s days are counted. “Wonderful World” develops around a crust punk sound, its most repeated phrase being “Enter a wonderful world”. Cynical at its best, it feels like the whole band wants to suck you right into their post-apocalyptic setting and show you what humanity has been narrowed to. Following the same sound, “Wanderer” feels like a plea for mercy, with the singer’s agonizing screams, in the background, complaining about its surroundings, while the rest of the band builds up on an atmosphere so dense you can almost feel its grasp. Closing up this period, “Hyperoïne” is the most experimental track of Anthropocene. A double vocal assault with space-like synthesizers that start to take more and more momentum as the song develops… At the end, everything is mixed together in a total feeling of hopelessness.
Imagine your surroundings being overtaken by vegetation, a hundred years have passed and nothing can stop Mother Nature’s wrath. Imagine the axis of balance being destroyed, with just one goal for humanity to reach: survival. Enter “To the Ground”, the first part of the second movement on this record. Focusing on ambiance rather than blasting you in the face, this instrumental track starts off as a slow, droning scene, evolving into a swarm of suffocating riffs that convey the feeling of a civilization’s demise. Speaking about suffocation, “It struck you down” is the first, gargantuan growl of “Silent at Last”. Gone are the punk roots of the first tracks, this is post-metal at its finest: slow, devastating, and heavy, with primal screams and shrieks that evoke humanity’s most primal instincts. The same goes for “Dead Cities”, with the band going full-on Isis and Cult of Luna, with Aaron Turner-like barks, savage drumming, and droning guitars and bass lines that flow in a powerful crescendo. The calm after the storm comes in the form of “Invocation”, a small track with deep chants that feel like the summoning of an incredible force that takes over on “Rise Goddess”. A distorted riff gives way to the end of the second movement, with the whole band increasing the tempo as the song progresses: cymbals, drums, bass, growls, chants, you name it. If “Invocation” was the incantation, this track is the creature itself in its might. Humanity’s punishment for their past actions has arrived.
If the two previous movements were about the foretelling of the end of days, Mycocene is where nothing will be spared. The band starts off with “Errant” and, with it, the post-metal sound is mixed with other genres, such as jazz and psychedelia. This song grabs the desperate chants of “Ride the Last Sunrise”, with a message of “We should’ve listened, now it’s too late”. “Sanctuaire” feels like a first-person view of what is going on after the beast is loose. The vegetation that started to grow on the second movement has given way to a gigantic mycelium that dominates all remaining life, with its intent to eliminate humanity. The survival instincts of the second part have intensified into a simple plea for shelter and hiding against this unstoppable force of nature. “God Mycelium” is the embodiment of this being, you can feel the depth of madness that the human psyche has reached (with tracks “Vulvaire” and “All the Sacred Voices” following this concept), with most of the lyrics pointing at humans for what they’ve done, and what they are now: mere slaves to a greater organism that will not forgive. Finishing off, “Urnacht”, with its punk delivery that recalls the first tracks, is the darkness of the album’s title finally coming to Earth.
The end has arrived, and “Wind” is the beginning of this funeral march. There is no experimentation to be found here. The band descends into drone, devastation, and minimalism to showcases what is left of their planet: a bleak and cold landscape, where the few who survived have no future. “Earth” brings out the heavy parts of the second movement and mixes them up into a whole new apocalyptic crescendo, while “Fire” delivers the most somber and scary ambience to be found on the record. Imagine the landscape that “To the Ground” evoked in its first part, but transformed into a permanent field of horror and darkness. To close off this journey, “Space / Departure” ends up with the remaining survivors of this apocalypse departing into space to never come back. Nothing is left, nothing can be saved now, and it’s all our fault. Will they learn from their mistakes, or are they doomed to repeat it? These are questions that the band leaves open to analyze as the song transitions into pure, bleak noise.
As you might’ve read from this analysis, this is an album that demands your whole attention if you want to take on the full experience. Concept aside, this album is a post-metal gem. Both singers deliver astounding performances that range from powerful shrieks and growls to melodic vocals and hypnotic chants. The guitars and bass works are appreciated the most when it comes to intense crescendos and lush scenarios, while the drums ebb and flow during all the movements, with sheer force and dexterity.
Abraham have outdone themselves as few other bands do, positioning themselves alongside names such as Cult of Luna and The Ocean, delivering a conceptual double-album with a very powerful message behind its apocalyptic and desolate sound.
Indeed, it is a long funeral lament.
A digital promotional copy of the album was sent to us.
Album: Look, Here Comes the Dark!
Release date: 11 May 2018
Location: Lausanne, Switzerland
Label: Pelagic Records
Filetype listened to: MP3
Bitrate: 192 kb/s CBR
Sampling frequency: 44,100 Hz, stereo
Disc 1 – 50:05
I. Anthropocene – 20:30
1. Ride the Last Sunrise – 6:02
2. Wonderful World – 3:51
3. Wanderer – 3:51
4. Hyperoïne – 6:46
II. Phytocene – 29:35
5. To the Ground – 6:27
6. Silent at Last – 5:13
7. Dead Cities – 7:34
8. Invocation – 1:34
9. Rise, Goddess – 8:57
Disc 2 – 61:49
III. Mycocene – 28:08
1. Errant – 4:53
2. Sanctuaire – 5:01
3. God Mycelium – 8:05
4. Vulvaire – 4:23
5. All the Sacred Voices – 1:15
6. Urnacht – 4:31
IV. Oryktocene – 33:41
7. Wind – 8:43
8. Earth – 6:38
9. Fire – 7:52
10. Space / Departure – 10:28
Total runtime: 111:54