Do you like the unknown of the ocean? Perhaps you enjoy the feeling of being at the mercy of something almost unfathomably Real? Or maybe the shadowy mists engulfing the air with a Lovecraftian aura of ominous portents? If you are inclined to answer “yes” to these preliminary queries, then Spelljammer might be for you! The Swedish triadic order of doom and gloom have delivered Abyssal Trip (2021), their first full-length release in over five years, as an alchemical dose of heaviness from a nautical void unto you — the beholder.
But how does one truly understand the sheer immensity of sonic pressure that Spelljammer has packed into Abyssal Trip? Why, compare it to nature of course! On our humble little rock hurtling through space around the sun, there are various realms of natural splendour that could be defined as “abyssal”. Perhaps the most notable, or most definitive, is the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean near the island territory of Guam. The deepest parts of the oceanic trench reach depths of just over 6,000 fathoms (approximately 11,000 meters) with bone crushing levels of water pressure of roughly 1,000 bars (over 15,000 psi) at the deepest points. It is arguably one of the most “doom” natural locations on planet Earth, and it could be asserted given the dense complexion of riffs, and seismic waves of sound, that Spelljammer dragged Abyssal Trip up from those depths of the ocean.
Touching on the H.P. Lovecraft vein, Spelljammer conjures a harrowing sonic atmosphere from start to finish. Imagine an archaic bathysphere. As you approach the vessel, the rusted hatch lurches open with a grating moan. A diver dressed in heavy gear emerges, and otherworldly rays of brilliance emit forth from the helmet lights. You are drawn in like a moth to a flame. ‘Bellwether’ is a brilliantly fitting opening track as it sets the dense, and fascinatingly forlorn, setting of the album. Although the whole release is akin to miasma billowing out of an archaic vessel, ‘Abyssal Trip’ is a particularly arresting offering from the Swedish trio. The introductory audio sample prepares the ears for the unfolding blood-soaked, lurching riffs. It is the eponymous centerpiece of the album. The feeling of a hand reaching out of a stagnant, swampy pool and pulling its victim under the surface is ever present in the brooding weight of the track as it hypnotically proceeds.
Having hoisted hell up from a dark and watery unknown, Spelljammer easily shows that Scandinavia is rife with a love for doom and gloom. So take the journey. Enter the bathysphere, make the sonic descent, and take the Abyssal Trip.
Abyssal Trip is out now via Riding Easy Records and can be ordered here.
Words: Garrett A. Tanner