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The Holeum - Negative Abyss (2016) - Review

Band: The Holeum
Album title: Negative Abyss
Release date: 23 September 2016
Label: Lifeforce Records

01. Chemical Ghosts
02. Philosopher's Stone
03. Nuclear Mysticism
04. Pictures Of The Uncanny
05. Cosmic Horror
06. Omniverse
07. Vertical Parallel Infinites
08. Dystopia

The album info sent from the label about this release was very intriguing, telling that this album debouches in between post-metal and dark ambient, thus being full of atmosphere and subtleness. Huh, partially that's true, but I simply can't label the sound of this band this way. The music The Holeum plays is "post anything", but in my opinion, at least superficially it will appeal to fans of post-hardcore at first place, mostly because of vocals, while the instrumental side is dealing with typical post-metal beside other things which I'll explain later on. Of course there are many other influences blended inside that make this album interesting and quite dark, but not in such a pretentious way as it was announced.

Ok, let me tell you a couple of words about this Spanish band. Even though the band was formed in the second half of 2014 and Negative Abyss is their debut album the members are all well experienced musicians who were active before in bands like NahemaH, Demised, QuantumXperience, Hela, Neptunian Sun and Priest Of Dawn. They started The Holeum with a mission to stretch the boundaries and to reinforce the emotional impression of what dark and weirdly music can be. If they achived this is more or less a subjective question and depends on a taste of every single listener who dares to enter the universe of The Holeum, but one thing is sure, this album offers a lot and it's regardless to the taste an exploratory journey into the subconscious state of mind.

Negative Abyss consists of eight tracks dealing with never ending search for meaning of life, mostly in connection with vastness of universe. This album is pretty intense, as well it's a demanding listen which claims from the listener to be very attentive to details. What bothers me personally are those constantly aggressive vocals, with just a couple of clean half spoken parts, there's not enough emotion which I would expect in such music, but if I try to get over this I find the instrumental side very interesting. The sound is rich, also dynamic, it has powerful groovy parts, most of the tracks have unexpected twists and turns. The rhythmic line is like a driving wall of churning sound with some nice captivating melodies and mesmerizing well inserted calmer parts where also melancholic sound of trumpet so gracefully pops in, just listen to "Philosopher's Stone" or to the amazing atmospheric sound of soothing and epic "Vertical Parallel Infinites" to hear what I mean. The music is overall extreme, but there are plenty of sludgeish guitars, drone elements and atmospheric keys that in an elegant way add some kind of a multidimensional sound, here and there it reminds me to Amenra, sometimes even to Neurosis, also the acoustic segments and certain disharmonies when utilized are very welcoming to break off with constant punding lines, like for example in one of the highlights here, "Nuclear Mysticism", creating quite a cinematic feel to it. Even though all of this different elements that The Holeum utilizes these compositions are compact as hell.

The album is in its very essence dark and arduous, quite flowing and believe me that you won't get bored while listening to it, like said before the tracks have some very well integrated twists that you'll be amazed when hearing them. The dark ambient part, there's a bit of it, the track named "Cosmic Horror" is one kind of an excelent proof of it, the ambience becomes so horrific when that malevolent deafening sound of trumpet swirls in the distance, and I'm sure that every dark ambient artist would be proud of it. But this is just a welcoming break before the band hits again with full blast. The devoted listener will find in this multi-layered sound some psychedelic elements, crust shatterings as well and in slower parts doom metal fans will have plenty to enjoy, best heard in the final track "Dystopia".

The Holeum did a good job on this album, even though I expected much more atmospheric and emotive sound I'm quite satisfied with this offering, after all it's dark and experimental enough to satisfy my needs. The album has a very good and strong production, it has depth and it's well mixed, so it offers an enjoyable listen. Negative Abyss is a welcoming release from this Spanish newcomers, it's an album that should appeal if just going deeper into it to many different types of listeners.

Review written by: T.V.
Rating: 7,5/10