Louisiana is the epitome of everything dirty and lardy in America: The heaviest cuisine to threaten your heart, the liveliest city with a flair for the dead, the grittiest sounds to penetrate your ear. The later is of course a result of a lot of really famous Louisiana bands: Acid Bath, Crowbar, Eyehategod, Iwrestledabearonce and Thou just to name-drop a few of them. Another addition might be Kavyk, whose third album was released a few weeks ago via Caustic Hollow.
One thing that is clear pretty quickly when listening to this new band by Barghest members Max Kimmons and Troy Bennett is that they do not care at all about expectations. With Barghest the two have been releasing some really interesting black metal infused death stuff (also on quality label Gilead) and for a few years now, they have also been putting out music with Kavyk. Formed in 2015, the band release two EPs since then and now Radiant Abyss is their debut album and released on Caustic Hollow from New Orleans.
The five songs on Radiant Abyss are of different quality although they share the same genre, blackened death metal. Depending on the amount of doom elements in the songs, the quality changes. If the songs have some more of these like “Civilized” then they can really impress with longer passages, some slow down elements and beat-ups. But if they are too straightforward and do not vary their speed and musical identity then they can become a bit boring; and the “worst” thing to note here would be the opening title track “Radiant Abyss” - if one doesn’t like the sound the band produces then this track will not necessarily lead them any further. To get this straight: “Cathartic Voices” and “Civilized” are really good tracks and they really demand attention because they very nicely incorporate swirling guitars, some slower passages, a lot of dirt and yet also some of the band’s trademark-blastbeats into an amalgam that requires repeat.
Here the band shows the amount of work that was put into the arrangement of the songs, the amount of fingernails damaged by writing these beasts. For example the moment when the final track “Comatose Simplicity” steps off the gas and gives the chunky, lardy guitar lines meander into the mists of the nightly bayou. This timing didn’t come out of nowhere. On the other side we have a few tracks that would demand more detail, because they are too simplistic and at times even feel as if they are filling but not detailing the record.
Taking all of this into consideration, one can say that Radiant Abyss is a cliffhanger of an album – it got its radiant moments, which leave one really wanting more. However, it also has its moments, when one’s mind might wander off into the Bayou looking for a new EHG or Thou-record.