Avgrunden ("the abyss") is a drone doom quartet from Sweden's Stockholm. The band made one album and two demos whilst operating as a one-man band, whereas this, their second full-length album, is their first recording as a full band. The album is available as mp3-download, CD-R, and a small tape-pressing with a ten-minute bonus track.
The 14-minute opener gives the album a calm beginning; analogue synths create a slowly growing layer of sound, which is later deepened with some clean-ish guitars and chimes. It's a very stylish build-up for the ten-minute follow-up. Song two is driven by a guitar repeating a slow riff, which sounds like a lighter version of traditional slow-paced Southern sludge; harshness meets beauty and ambient. A cleaner bass guitar (which could use more mass, but sounds ok otherwise) gives the repetitive guitar riff a nice dose of variation and depth, and the drumming makes sure that the song goes forward and grows while doing so. The dry and sharp cymbals stick out a bit, but they do give the song a strong rhythm when they're present.
After the five minutes of "Upprättelse.." delivering calm and minimalistic desert-atmospheres, it's time for the last two tracks, both of which last twenty minutes. "I Den Förtorkade Benens Dal" is similar to song two with its repeating riffs and strong drum-backing, but eventually grows into a more freely jamming direction, almost venturing all the way to the realms of oldschool psychedelic rock. The last song, on the other hand, evolves from calm guitar- and synth-ambient to something way louder and noisier, until it's time for the outro-song "Järtecken." The outro is similar to the other songs on the album with drumming on them, but it's calmer, quieter and more melancholic. A stylish way to end the album.
You can hear Earth's influence on Avgrunden, there's on denying it. It's still clear that the band has ideas of their own, and they have the needed daring to venture outside their comfort zone and experiment with different means and instruments for creating drone and atmospheres.
What the band would need is a fuller sound to erase the excess emptiness between the guitars and other instruments, and a clearer vision of what they're aiming for. Even though "Den Fördomda Jorden" features quality tracks, it lacks cohesion, something that would tie the songs into a one solid bundle of amazement. The songs are skillfully crafted ones, but often too passive and fragile to completely win over the listener. The album's length is also an issue; when the mp3- and CD-R-versions play the album in one 75-minute session, the music will eventually become background music instead of being actively listened to. Some tightening up would've been needed, even though the tracks' variation gives the album a nice and stylish flow.
"Den Fördomda Jorden" presents over an hour's length of ethereal beauty, scorching heat and even southern groove. Their craft is still in process of finding its own traits and sound, but the band is getting there. The songs are already beautiful and intriguing; now the band needs to find out ways to make them enchanting and captivating.