South America is developing a strong affiliation with depressive black metal, commonly with the bedroom style that has plagued the genre for long enough now. Like every other continent, this scene has its good and bad apples, with most people standing up and praising acts like Thy Light for being the sole and soul destroyer of all the stereotypes that associate themselves with the scenes mostly bedroom styled bands. Unfortunately, like I said, every scene has its bad apples, but there is a small group of bands that still have the jury out on them despite the fact that they may have released several slabs of material already. When I initially came across Asbel, a Colombian breed of depressive black metal, I thought, because of the droning distortion of the guitars, that they fit perfectly into the middle of the bad apple scene, shining the light on themselves and professing with no shame that they were masters of the grotesque bedroom style that has gutted out the positive sections of this sub-genre and left many people with a bad taste in their mouths. No matter how many times you brush your teeth, the taste doesn’t come out.
No matter how many times to apply mouthwash to the taste, it doesn’t dispel that awful lingering taste of death -- more precisely, the death of a once solid sub-genre that was built around classic foundations laid down by second wave innovators like Burzum, Forgotten Woods and Strid. Maybe depressive black metal is a European thing and a European thing alone? I cannot recall the amount of times that I have read people, even Americans themselves, ridicule the American scene for its lack of talent not only in the depressive field, but in all fields of black metal. I happen to find these concerns, or accusations rather, to be ludicrous and bordering on the insane. America has done, is doing and will continue to produce some sublime black metal acts. However, there is a problem with the rising number of bedroom bands from South America, a continent which is currently going through much change with countries like Brazil forcing their way into the field of MEDC’s (more economically developed countries) and out of the faction that ties them to the LEDC’s (less economically developed countries). With this change comes a rise in bands because people can afford to keep up with their hobbies.
As well as this, bands are able to afford suitable recording equipment and even studio sessions in which to record their material with a professional tinge that goes a long way in distinguishing some bands apart from the comical bedroom style that bears the brunt of many, many jokes. Asbel are, as previously stated, a band who seem to fall into two categories simultaneously which has both thrown me off the scent of their material, making me unable to class whether this is doomed to the bedroom, or whether it roams all areas of the house. There are areas of this record that contain too many errors for it to be considered one of the quintessential black metal records. First, though I’m not unfamiliar with, I don’t appreciate Asbel’s form of drum machine. I’ve heard drum machines intertwined with other instrumentation before, like the guitars and the vocals, but without the right atmosphere, the drum machine will sound out of place and sterile, as it does for large periods. Though the programming for the drum machine is decent enough, and the drums don’t provide too many negatives that impact unfortunately against the rest of the record, there are too many niggling doubts in the back of my mind that stops me from enjoying the piece fully given the repetitive style of the guitars as it is.
Drum machines have never particularly bothered me too much before, since I like other bands who use them like Wigrid and Abyssic Hate, but those two bands come with a sufficient enough atmosphere that makes the use of a drum machine seem so much less likely to impose a threat upon the actually depressing atmosphere, which is precisely how bands like this were meant to sound to begin with. Alongside other repetitive areas, Asbel aren’t able to sustain their sound for long periods, hence the usually short song lengths. Its good musicianship on the part of its only member, who goes by the same name as the band, but nothing stands out as being particularly excellent. The bass, given the compact and dense production is almost nonexistent. It doesn’t rile any emotions within me that make me like the record anymore. Given the constricted nature of this piece, it isn’t surprising that the only major positive is Asbel’s vocal contribution which, although fairly predictable, is strong enough for me to impose positives upon it. Aside from this one small, partly insignificant area, Asbel sound very contrived. Their artificial sound is too light, despite the distortion, and repetitive and doesn’t come with the atmosphere that turns a depressive black metal band from a mediocre act, to a mesmerising and brilliant act.