Space travel is more likely to be mentioned when describing THC-laden music. Just count the bands whose monicker says “cosmic” and you’ll get the drill. But the abyss has never seemed to be an inspiration in the doom scene. Yet, this unknown and unexplored space, this “upside down stratosphere”, perfectly embodies the heaviness and anguish of doom. This is what SPELLJAMMER tried to prove with their aptly-titled new album “Abyssal Trip”.
Close the door of your foggy bathyscaphe-equipped sofa, take a deep breath, dive in and imagine. Imagine the darkness of the abyss, so dark it becomes as dense as oil, imagine the phenomenal pressure, the emptiness in its gloomiest facet… You’re presently listening to opening track “Bellwether”. A minimum effort to get maximum pleasure: a rumbling and spine-crushing bass, a creepy sledgehammer riff that drags you down to the bottom at a skull-grinding pace. The epitome of “Slow and Low” music. When “Ancient Days” was an ode to the great Green, the band chose to weight it down with a lead belt and switch the trippy for sinister.
But anxiety can also arise from urgency. The urgency when lacking oxygen, the tachycardia when suddenly caught in a maelstrom of deafening guitars and frantic drumming (“Lake”, “Among The Holy”). SPELLJAMMER spare the listener through a few decompression stops, like a psychedelic digression before engulfing you under thick layers of doom. Throughout the 44-minute dive, the basaltic riffs unfold slowly and inexorably like tectonic plates rushing into the abyss of Earth.
The title track serves as the climax of this foray into the deep. Aside from the ill-timed use of Z-series dialogue, “Abyssal Trip” acts as a powerful, saturated, threatening and frightening neck crusher.
Needless to quote masters of the genre, the album oozes with strong references to the Weedian. Yet it stands out enough to make the whole thing delightfully captivating. While most song themes in the doom scene deal with the occult or space, this record speaks a language of its own. If Sleep propel you into space, Spelljammer are the antithesis. They will take you into the hadal zone (named after the realm of Hades), the deepest zone of the oceanic abyss, perpetually dark, cold and soulless. Welcome to the world of silence.
Last modified: 27 February 2021