After “5 years of blood, sweat and tears”, local “oriental metal” band Across the Abyss has launched their debut album, Silhouettes of a Perfect World, the band’s first, and highly ambitious attempt to marry oriental and occidental sounds.

Erhu, sitars, gamelan percussion, koto and guzheng zithers would hardly be anyone’s first pick when composing a metal record, and yet they are the weapons of choice for Across the Abyss’ debut effort, Silhouettes of a Perfect World.

Having said that, power metal fans would still be delighted with the repertoire of sounds characteristic of the genre. More than anything, Silhouettes of a Perfect World asks you not just to listen but to experience it, soak and bask in its atmosphere. Double bass pedals set the pace for most of the songs and melodic guitars are accentuated with Simon Gwozdz’s symphonic arrangements.

Silhouettes of a Perfect World cover

Album cover courtesy of Across the Abyss

Silhouettes of a Perfect World is divided into three acts with interludes signalling movements into subsequent parts. Part one, subtitled: The Sacrament of Sacrifice is made up of the first five songs. “Celestial Solitude”, comprises the next four. The final act, Lost in the Land of Dreams consists of the final five.

The album opens with a grand instrumental piece, “Season for Storms (Overture)” reminiscent of Brazillian power metal band Angra’s Angels Cry. The opening track, complete with weather effects, creates an atmosphere of anticipation and awe, a feeling that acts as a totemic guide that eases listeners into the album’s narrative. It also introduces the oriental motif that would be heard throughout the album

Simon Gwozdz’s vocals are solid and metal worthy: mid-ranged, firm, strong and harsh yet raspy and malleable when required. Faint backup singing complements the main vocals giving tracks like “When Dreams Die” a haunting quality that does well to invoke atmosphere.

The guitar work is explosive and powerful. Tracks like “The Liquidator” features powerful dual harmonising guitars à la double dragon style. Sick solos and brutal breakdowns pepper the album, further empowering songs such as “The Core of Darkness”, “The Telescope” and “Illusion of Significance”.

All that said, special care should be given to mixing future albums. Because power metal involves a lot of instruments and intricate parts, rough mixing would result in muddy sounds. Joshua Ng’s drums are generally great, but his cymbals and hi-hats are oftentimes drowned out by other sounds. Rhythm segments seem to drone in the background and threaten to smother the lead guitars.

Overall, Silhouettes of a Perfect World is a unique, fun and solid effort for a debut album, filled with unorthodox melodies and ambition that is definitely worth experiencing. We’re already looking forward to future material from the band.

Silhouettes of a Perfect World is available on CD or digital download at: store.equatorialstorm.com or cdbaby.com/cd/acrosstheabyss

Images courtesy of Across the Abyss

Chi Weng Hui