Beyond Mortal Dreams – Abomination Of The Flames Review

[Artwork by Seeming Watcher]

I’m sure at some point the Roman empire enjoyed such a ludicrous level of prosperity that wealthy statesmen binned roasted peacock for not looking… graceful enough, and perhaps even flicked moderately faulty looking diamonds to dark corners before slowly slipping into luxurious treasure baths.

Meanwhile, in the world of heavy metal…

Imagine being a fan of heavy metal… Being a fan of death metal… Being a fan of smoldering death metal, and putting a record like Abomination of the Flames on the backburner after seeing the album cover depicted above. Well, chances are pretty high you’re not here for excuses, which is good, because I have precisely zero to offer beyond the following: “Hey, do you have any idea how many promos come down the conveyor on any given day?”

“Oh, boo hoo,” you wisely throw back in my face whilst prepping a 20-story guillotine.

Release date: April 15, 2022. Label: Lavadome Productions.
So, beyond the swirling maelstrom of diabolic excellency dominating the album’s artwork that should be well enough to pique the interest of any relatively sensible death metal fiend, here’s another reason why you should probably pay attention to Australia’s Beyond Mortal Dreams and this, their sophomore effort: While it certainly travels a familiar terrain, Abomination of the Flames delivers one hell of a thump without sounding like much of the death metal that’s currently getting the glossy covers these days. Sure, it looks like a gateway into some form of brutal tech death fit for a label such as Unique Leader, but what it actually delivers is more along the lines of the slow-burning wickedness that so often wrapped around classics delivered by Immolation, Morbid Angel, Nile et al. To be clear, it’s not that the record is not brutal or at all technical, it’s just not those things as a genre tag.

Atmosphere is very important to Beyond Mortal Dreams, and that atmosphere happens to be saturated with the sort of obliterating evil we in the death metal biz normally recognize as being haplessly freed from some verboten crypt, or perhaps conjured amidst a shadowy Temple of Doom ceremony. The elements responsible for conjuring and sustaining this spirit here are legion, but it’s certainly worth mentioning that Pahl “Doomsayer” Hodgson’s vocals scrape impossibly low, like an absurdly heavy stone door finally giving way after centuries of abeyance, and the riffs that surround him avoid any form of chunkiness in favor of coiling and gliding around the fretboard like an oily reptile. That last bit is a critical factor, without question, but those who are sensitive concerning riffing that’s fairly swampy and certainly molten might need to prepare themselves for the way the record is produced. Ultimate result: They do indeed suit the overall malicious atmosphere.

Abomination of the Flames is far from your typical murkfest, though, as the band utilizes all sorts of tricksies, some of which are actually rather startling, that do one hell of a job of splitting the shadowy din with sudden splashes of color. The leads alone are indispensable, jumping from multiple corners in every song and providing exaggerated melody against the otherwise choking hell smoke. Anyone already aware of BMD via their previous efforts—their monstrous debut from 2008, From Hell, and the Dreaming Death EP from 2012—is familiar with Jamie “Bloodspawn” Whyte’s knack for shred, but Abomination makes it clear he hasn’t exactly spent the years spanning releases sitting on his hands.

Further adding to the ornamentation is something previously unexplored by the band: synth vocoder. Beyond Mortal Dreams has used atmospheric keys to their advantage in the past, and they continue to do so to an even greater extent in 2022, but the slick vocoder effect adds a very unique touch to songs such as “Decimation Hymn” and the fully leveling “They Are Seven.”

As hard as the record delivers in the front half, it’s the back half comprised of three 7-minute flatteners back-to-back that really gives Abomination of the Flames added depth. This is where the experimentation and reliance on some of the more twisty / turny, sometimes crawling Nile-isms and moderate keyboard orchestration get full roaming rights, which offers a notably satisfying counterpoint to early tracks such as “Deficit in Flesh” that make it clear vintage Morbid Angel is a fundamental precedent for the band. “Decimation Hymn” is a doomy and conquering beast from impossible depths, throwing down the sort of vile and scraping vocals that recall Xathagorra Mlandroth’s much missed Catacombs project; the ensuing “Misanthrope Messiah” churns out some of the fastest riffing and drum acrobatics of the entire record; and “Peace through Annihilation” blends most everything worthy of praising about the band’s full approach into one giant, crushing, melodic, viciously sinister closer.

The crux of the matter is actually quite simple: If you like the idea of getting smoked by a smoldering death record that finds a unique way to sew together influences from Morbid Angel, Nile and, say, Sarpanitum into a fully molten venture that sounds equal parts doomed as it does annihilative, then don’t let Abomination of the Flames slip through the net. And hey, hopefully the next record won’t take over a decade to crawl from the grisly depths.

Posted by Captain

Last Rites Co-Owner; Senior Editor; That was my skull!

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