Abus is a Finnish hc-band, and this is their first physical release. The tape has on-shell prints and comes packed in a slip including a lyrics-insert, and looks damn good. You can hear the full release online on the band's bandcamp-page, too.

The tape is limited to 50 copies most likely due to it being a fully DIY-effort, but the music is of such high quality that I'm assuming there'd be more demand for it. The songs are based on brisk hardcore punk, but they're not just about all-out aggression: they have a constant melodic undercurrent and don't feel all that hostile despite their aggression, tension and roughness. The song "Clous" is a good example of this, as it's mostly mid-tempo and has some very minimalistic sections with clean notes only. There's even some beauty to it, in a way. The vocals are mostly sung in French which I understand nothing about (and hence the vocals sound a bit exotic to me), but the band helped me by saying that the lyrics are mostly themed around arrogance in different settings and points of view.

The songs have a lot of variation to ensure that the tape stays interesting for its full length. The demo/album also demonstrates that the band has the skills and eagerness to create something more original and ambitious than the '82-blasting Finnish punk-bands are prone to do - not that there would be anything wrong with the good old '82-hardcore, though! Some of the songs rely on traditional chugging, some are more melody-driven and feature guitar leads, and there's a lot of variation in the tempos and vocal lines too. The tape presents a lot of different things to like.

Although the soundscape merges rawness and clarity in a good manner (even the bass-lines are very easy to make out!), I think this release would've benefited from some outside help with the mastering. The songs have a lot of depth, details, variation and contrasts, but the rough soundscape somehow flattens the songs' different aspects and makes the 24-minute entirety initially seem way more one-dimensional and usual than it actually is. The compositions would definitely have the potential to make a greater impact if the soundscape was bolder and stronger. Some kind of an outro would've been good too, as now the demo/album ends rather abruptly.

Abus has a lot of skill and potential, and I'm hoping that we'll be hearing more from them in the future. 'Nuff said.

4 / 5