By Matt Hinch
Dark times call for dark music. So it happened that following my grandmother’s passing last week Catharsis Absolute by Avichi came around on my playlist. And stayed there for days as I grieved. What Avichi mastermind Aamonael (aka Adam Markuszewski) performing as this one-man black metal project has managed to do is emulate the breadth of emotion going through my body and mind during a difficult time. Sadness, restlessness, regret, grief, guilt and strength all have their place on this stellar release.
The variation of approach found on Catharsis Absolute, both within songs and album-wide, may be the album’s most endearing feature. “Voice of Intuition”’s haunting guitar lines head into traditional BM force with its full sound, relentless percussion and menacing power. Aamonael’s commanding rasp cuts between half-buried chants, stoking the bellows of this harrowing track. A chant-like clean vocal appears as well in “Flames In My Eyes.” Harassing riffs and windswept runs entrance as sneaky drum fills call for attention and the devious bass hides in the shadows.
Aamonael can also craft more epic pieces as proven by “All Gods Fall.” The 12+ minute opus maintains an almost thoughtless cadence for its entirety, as if driven by grief to the extent that mind and body become separate. Clean vocals cry triumphant yet with the burden of victory’s cost, as the melodies wring out every last drop of emotion. The violins add another layer of melancholy, another level of despair to an already brooding and painful song.
The album’s pièce de resistance however is the incredible “Lightweaver.” From its gorgeous opening moments one is assured this a special track. It soars with constant motion, folk melodies dancing like motes of dust in the light of an open window. Exultant riffs lift the heart while simultaneously breaking it. Ultimate ascendancy is hard won and bittersweet.
After battling Avichi’s black metal cacophony and saturating emotional weight, the listener is left to lament with the title track: nearly eight minutes of intensely personal and repetitious piano melody similar to the album’s intro track “Repercussion.” It’s beautiful and painful all at once, passing in the blink of an eye while feeling like an eternity.
Catharsis Absolute is a triumph of modern black metal. It holds true to tradition while fleshing out the raw, bullish pounding through varied instrumentation and agonizing emotional heft. The juxtaposition of power and fragility is magnificently potent, making Avichi’s latest an unforgettable experience and nothing short of masterful.