Album Title: 
All Pain As Penance
Release Date: 
Wednesday, March 1, 2023
Review Type: 

This review does not deal with a new album, yet with a re-issue of what I do consider a monument. That’s a personal opinion, but many Black Metal adepts will surely agree. And those not aware (yet) of this stuff will mostly follow my opinion too. I did write a review on the original edition of All Pain As Penance ‘back then’ (2019). It was (soon) sold out (all physical editions), and one of the labels involved at that moment, i.e. Inferna Profundus Records from Lithuanian soil, decided to have this stuff reprinted again.

Abduction’s third full-length was initially released in early Spring 2019 via Inferna Profundus Records (two different editions on vinyl and a compact-disc edition) in partnership with UK-based Apocalyptic Witchcraft Records. Later that very same year, also a tape-edition got released (via Analög Ragnarök), by the way. In a series of several Inferna Profundus Records re-releases (many of them to be released on March 1st), this one does surely deserve all additional attention (so do the others too, evidently; more reviews will surely follow). I have, to be honest, no idea if there’s only a vinyl remake, or one on CD too; I think just the LP, but time will tell.

Now it’s time for this recording. It comes with quite remarkable artwork by French visual artist Gabriel Delmas. The whole album consists of seven tracks, clocking just over forty minutes, and it was originally recorded with assistance of Ian Bould at the small Stuck On A Name Studio. The main instrumentation work was done by sole / main member Phil Illsley aka A|V. A|V used to be the lead vocalist in Lordaeron for several years, and he was involved with bands such as Taken By The Tide, Cruel Humanity or Death Tripper too. But as A|V, he started the project Abduction for your dearest information.

What follows next is hugely based on what I wrote in (late) Spring 2019. Why? Well, my opinion did not change about this project or this specific album, and yeah, I am somewhat lazy right now as well. No, seriously, but honestly, I will take the content from that original review as basic, with some additions, adaptations or extensions.

With All Pain Is Penance, Abduction bring an extremely intensive, powerful, overwhelming, oppressive, dismal and energetic form of Black Metal, which sounds dissonant and melodious at the same time. The dynamic approach gets strengthened by the raging and thunderous drum patterns of session drummer EG; percussion-works that leave no room for rest, peace, tranquillity. Yet these drum rhythms are not just like a furious AK-47 salvo, for I think the craftsmanship executed right here is of a diversified yet uniquely elaborated level. String-wise, there is a lot to discover (or is it: uncover) as well, with discording tremolo riffs, hypnotic lead melodies, a harsh yet supportive rhythm section, and fine-balanced bass guitars. Abduction also make use of some subtle synth parts, which are, in their modesty, truly supportive, colouring the event in black-and-white. With the latter, I do refer to the equilibrium in between ominously darkened passages at the one hand, and rather mesmerizing excerpts at the other. Also within the vocal passages, there is a lot of variation, with screams and grunts at the foreground, and much more. It might be less ‘wretched’ than before, yet still the diversification and experimentation with vocal chords is enormous. And hey, without exaggeration it does fit to the whole!

…that being in a nutshell…

This is more than a collection of element. Composition-wise, Abduction balances in between tradition and progression. The elemental aural fundaments find their origin within the old-styled roots for sure. Especially the more epic pieces (Convulsing At Baalbek is a clear representation of this statement) find inspiration in the core-sources of the Old School (generally seen, for this stuff is not limited to the Nineties’ Nordic scene). Yet there is that progressive (no, not as in ‘Progressive Metal’, for there is no link with the experimental Avantgarde scene) approach too in several excerpts. I am rather talking about the eccentric elements that trespass the border with ‘the usual’, yet without leaving the path of occult and obscure Black Metal. There are those dissonant parts, with post-modern riffs and creative rhythms, injected by a vast variation of vocal contributions. Interludes, like that gloomy piece Embattled, show a creative process that is distinctive from ‘the average’ as well.

The raw-droning and grim-sounding production gives the whole that touch of occult, mystic and hypnotic elegance, searching for (and finding) a balance in between atmosphere and execution. And that atmosphere, well, let’s say that it is breath-taking; it makes the audience gasp for air, while listening is like an instinctive yet irreversible and unescapable necessity. I do like the roughness of the sound in combination with the technical performance, for this partnership (unpolished production with technically well-crafted play) gets canalised in a very natural result. This goes for all parts: the slower ones, the blasting pieces, the ones with more ‘emotion’ (sometimes filled with Dark Ambient-injected grandeur) and the fierce, malignant fragments. Not unimportant, I think, is the link with the so-called Morbid Death Metal or Metal-of-Death current in sound and technical performance. The Funeral Of Cosmic Mastery, for example, is like the definition of a mostly obscure, even funereal approach that sweetly caresses this related style. Mind, for instance, the groovy drum patterns, the floating keyboards and guitar melodies, and those evocative blackened (reverberating) voices.

This album turns out to be a grandiose recording with a lot to offer. Despite a huge variety in between the individual compositions, and keeping the twisted approach and execution in mind, All Pain As Penance did become a monument of epic majesty, unconventional brutality and open-minded persuasion. In combination with the satisfying sound quality and highly-technical performance, with the addition of distinctive elements (like the sometimes crazy-sounding synths, as in Ultra-Terrestrial, and twisted voices), and with that gloomy yet vengeful atmosphere, this is nothing less but another recommendation!