Readers of Witching Metal, if you are the NWN/Detest Records/underground die hard maniacs that I assume make our fanbase, should already be quite familiar with Proclamation. Next to Revenge, Diocletian, and Blasphemophagher, they are among the contemporary bestial black/death metal elite, and one of the flagship bands of NWN. Their fourth opus, Nether Tombs of Abaddon, completes their "AMEN" (the first letters of all their album titles spell it out, nifty eh?) tetralogy. What exactly this means or how the albums fit together outside of the title acronym, I'm not really sure, but let's have a look.
I've been putting off writing this review for a while, because, well, I wasn't sure exactly what to say. I listened to Nether Tombs a couple of times and came to the conclusion that this sounds like Proclamation. That's not a criticism. I love Proclamation. You will not find a more ardent Proclamation (or war metal in general) fan than yours truly. However, this is the same kind of hyper-chaotic, pulverizing black death found on the last 3 Proclamation records. Echoing the blasting fury of Blasphemy and the pure evil of Beherit, Nether Tombs of Abaddon follows the formula we've come to expect from Proclamation. The riffs are hard to follow and sometimes almost intangible, and the songwriting is unpredictable in it's borderline incongruent changes. The drums sounds like wet cardboard recorded in a cave in Hell. In between or in the midst of songs are samples of religious chorals to let one catch one's breath before plunging into further rituals of desecration. All that said, it's not completely the same as the rest of their discography, and is definitely worth listening. Proclamation aren't stale, just very consistent.
One semi-prominent difference is that the production doesn't seem as bass-heavy as on previous releases. This isn't a huge issue, but I have always loved Proclamation's style of Production and I think the heavy low end definitely helped things sound bigger and more ominous. Additionally, the vocals are less drenched in reverb than, say, Advent of the Black Omen.
A piece of advice I must give to anyone who is going to listen to this or any other Proclamation is that you have to really pay attention to it to enjoy it. The music is so violent and intense that if you just put it on as background music and only half listen, it will sound like noise occasionally interrupted by Gregorian chants. A more attentive listener will be able to pick out drum fills, dramatically barbaric dual vocals, and even some quite catchy riffing (the opening of "Christ Death Ceremony", or the first riff in "Regurgitated Bibles", which may be the slowest Proclamation have ever played).
At the end of the day, if you don't like already like Proclamation or this kind of black metal in general, Nether Tombs of Abaddon is probably not for you. It's another very extreme release by one of the most extreme bands out there. Fans of bestial black metal and Proclamation's dedicated cult following will be somewhere between appreciative and smitten. I give this a 3.75/5.