Black Harvest - "Abject"
I listen to a lot of music. Sadly, I listen to a lot of music that just passes me by and sometimes that is just me being a penis and not taking time to listen properly. However, in today's world of omnipresent internet access and never ending stream of Bandcamp and YouTube I do often come across music that no matter how hard I listen just has no soul, has no passion, no grit, no feel as well as no competency to make up for any of the above either.
Thankfully, New York's Black Harvest have passion, grit, feel and talent in abundance. Having been introduced to their particular brand of blackened, tech-edged, death metal with 2011 release "Ingrate" I soon found myself dipping in for a purchase of their latest offering "Abject". To be able to blend styles with this ease and fluency takes skill and equally to be able to show your influences without appearing a copycat takes a prowess many bands today simply lack. As you travel across the 9 tracks on offer here you are treated to the technical proficiency associated with Gorguts, to the avant garde tendencies of Deathspell Omega and at times the folky melodies of Drudkh.
If you take a moment to reflect on starting off with the stabbing intensity of album opener "A Form Of Blindness" to the haunting ethereal beauty of closing track "Your Words Are Made Of Gold" you can understand truly the thought and effort that has gone into structuring this album. The flow of the music is relentless at times but it is never at the expense of the melodic passages that bob along atop of the waves of riffs and tremolo rolling chaos. Just check out the flitting fury of "Confined", a track that truly goes through the process of feeling enclosed as it switches between aggressive, wild, catchy and sombre passages. It is as fine an example as you could hope to discover of an artist being able to not just touch you with their music but grab a hold of you and pull you in along side them.
There are times during "Abject" when you genuinely feel you are in the room with them (well with Kishor anyway - he did all this virtually unassisted), such is the organic sound to proceedings. Although at times I do find the production a little thin it is to its credit also that all instruments are so audible in the mix.
The vocals vary between layered DM burl and scathing BM venom - check out "Aftermath" for a real sense of the variety on show. The guitar is just as versatile never being afraid to throw in a mix of technical chops and melodic leads on a regular basis. The bass chugs along like some well oiled machine throughout, resonating just nicely without sitting too high in the mix to steal the show, whilst those relentless drum patterns and fills keeping plugging away in the background. Then, just when you think you have the measure of things the roller coaster ride of "The Beggars Song" ends with a piano which sounds like it was always meant to be there. You see, Black Harvest get away with doing different things without making them wacky or showy for that matter. They keep things familiar and add variety when appropriate - not just because they can. It is a very measured album on the whole full of not always obvious restraint, made by an artist able to be entertaining, talented and challenging all at the same time.
As well as being responsible for the fantastic array of sounds on offer here, Kishor is also responsible for the fine artwork on display (captured especially well on the CD version), so you are in for a visual as well auditory treat by dipping into your pocket and buying a copy of "Abject" here