Rock and metal, perhaps more than most genres, are prone to cliches, to following templates, to doing things as they have always been done. In short, thinking inside the box comes easily to the makers of such music. Thankfully, there are bands such as Kabbahl who are smart enough to know how to distance themselves from such failings and it is their ability to subvert the form, even one as regimented and often unadventurous as rock, which makes Abaddon a bit of a treat.
Sitting on the cusps of alt-rock and metal, goth and industrial, they both test the boundaries of each genre and also find the common ground where they converge. Neither do they go for obvious tropes or if they do, they are neatly balanced by less expected sounds and inclusions. Sounds such as the gentle, minimalist piano which leads in Goodbye Brother, the album’s opening salvo.
It quickly turns into a dark and delicious anthem, driven by a cavernous wall of guitars and a tsunami of drums but also shot through with razor-edged guitar riffs and topped off by vocals which are both powerful and adaptable. A great way to kick off.
By the time you get to track three, Love Is A Winter, they have twisted the sonic plot even further, opting to infuse their sound with a strange indie edge and some almost pop-smart sensibilities. This only makes me like the album more and it shows thatthe band is concerned more with what makes a song work, what keeps it interesting, and what makes it unique, than any slavish devotion to generic rulebooks and long standing sonic traditions.
Similarly, False Promises has great bass energy, coming from a more Desert Rock direction and at times aligning itself with the sort of groove that the likes of Red Hot Chili Peppers thought that they had the market cornered in. They still manage to drape these funky edges in their trademark slabs of beat and slices of guitar riff, but the balancing act at the heart of the song is what makes the music stand out.
Waves, which round things off, is another indication that, when they want to, they can balance cultishness with commerciality, and this swansong could easily find itself in plenty of mainstream places – popular charts, widespread radio broadcast, play out music for the latest Hollywood teen angst movie, video games and more.
The band name, the album title and some of the lyrics might suggest just another bunch of run-of-the-mill, satan-curious metallers but nothing could be further from the truth. Abaddon is full of great rock music, very alternative, occasionally classic and shot through with gothic urges, metallic weight and industrial angularity. But the one thing it always does is deliver a series of heads-down, no-nonsense, foot-on-the-monitor, fist-in-the-air, rock and roll. And that never goes out of fashion no matter how you dress it up and what name you give it.