Reviewed: [August 2020]
Released [2020 Self-released]
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
Abramelin may have helped pioneer Australian death metal way back in the day, but after doing so they essentially did an epic mic drop and fucked off into The Outback or somewhere. The band issued their second album, Deadspeak, in 2000, and then crickets as members went on to play with The Berzerker, The Amenta, Hobbs Angel of Death and Akercocke, among others.
Now, five years after regrouping with nearly all of old lineup intact, and 20 years since Deadspeak, the band are not only back with a new album, but sounding surprisingly fresh – and current. And while their timing unfortunately sucks, given the COVID-19 clampdown that won’t let them get back out on the road to support their comeback for the foreseeable future, the album shows these guys have still got it.
Never Enough Snuff – as in ”snuff” films, you know where people are supposedly killed for real, not the sniffing tobacco – is no mere trip down memory lane with an old band cloaking themselves in nostalgia and sounding dated and, well, old. Indeed, it’s like Abramelin never went away in the first place and have grown and matured – at least musically – along the way. And the fellas may well have done that – just with other bands.
Regardless, with ace drummer David Haley, also of Psycroptic, in tow, the band crank out a collection of brutal and grotesque, yet technically proficient and surprisingly groovy death metal bolstered by modern production values that are almost too sleek. The gnashing riffs, gut-punch hooks and frantic tempos come across as rather crisp and clean here, and although undeniably heavy they could have used a bit more grit to really peel people’s faces off.
But the songs – including one actually called “The Peeler” about someone who boasts that “Rending live flesh is what I do best … Wearing your flesh while it’s supple and fresh, a feeling I cannot define” – are remarkably solid and ably mix savagery, dexterity, punishing melodies that echo Heartwork/Surgical Steel-vintage Carcass and depraved lyrics that recall Chris Barnes-era Cannibal Corpse – especially on tracks like “Head Fuck” and “Full-Gore Whore.”
Indeed, frontman Simon Dower’s growl and screech vocals sound a bit like Barnes did too – though with less urpiness – with some Glen Benton thrown in thanks to the multi-track/harmonizer effects that accentuate the contrast. But that’s really the only old school there is here, save for a rerecording of the Deadspeak track “Pleasures” and its delightful “I now tear chunks of hair out and then bite off your nose, It’s not to spite your face my dear, It’s how it fucking goes” sentiments.
Otherwise, Abramelin take their veteran guile and use it to look forward instead of back and come off the better for it here. The contemporary polish may be a bit bright, but Never Enough Snuff still bristles with energy, intent and all-around nastiness and makes for a welcome return.