Theophagist - I Am Abyss

10 songs
43:13 minutes
***** ***


Despite having been around under the name Theophagist since 2015, the roots of this Luxembourgish death metal band go back even a decade further when the guys were performing under a different name. This is obvious once you start listening to their debut album I Am Abyss which doesn’t sound like a first effort from a young newcomer band. It seems as if metalcore and all of its variants are on the brink of extinction, as Theophagist take us back to a classic death metal sound with a certain Scandinavian bent.

I Am Abyss contains nine songs plus an intro and offers a more varied sound that I had initially expected. The band chose to open the album with a couple of tracks to set the mood, meaning that their more accessible material comes first. The opener Cannibal Preacher starts with a moody guitar intro before the band joins in a fast pace, with the evil vocals growling and screeching over it all. The middle of the song contains a really great guitar solo, followed by a spoken word part before the regular part of the song comes back. All of this is perfectly recorded, despite this debut being a self-released venture. Burn That Witch is a groovy mid-tempo hammer, quite simple in its execution but incredibly powerful nonetheless. This is the kind of song that will get heads banging during their shows. Recipe For Human Cake is a gore influenced death metal track with exceedingly silly lyrics but a catchy tongue-in-cheek chorus.

Once the listener is warmed up, the album loses a bit of momentum with the two and a half minute long intro Awakening The..., performed on a cello and a viola or violin, and always making me feel as if I am about to watch a Game of Thrones episode. Terrors From The Deep shows Theophagist from a more complex side. Gone are the instantly accessible choruses, instead we get a six and a half minute long track which will make you discover new details every time you listen to it. Epileptic Seizure is somewhat more direct and has truly evil vocals. R.I.S.E. manages to be brutal and strangely melancholic at the same time. The last three songs continue in that direction where you get technically skilful death metal that never tries to be overly complex, which should make this record a well earned treat for fans of muscular death metal that doesn’t shy away from occasional bouts of melody.

What I end up liking most about I Am Abyss are the varied songwriting, the killer guitar riffs, the pummelling rhythm section, the fierce vocals and also the guitar solos that are some of the best I have come across on a death metal record in a long time. The lyrics may not really be a revelation, but Theophagist just want to be a true death metal band, and that is something they have achieved on this great sounding self-released debut album. Next to Desdemonia and Miles To Perdition, Theophagist are right now the hottest item in Luxembourgish death metal.

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