• ''Entertaining parody of French-Canadian rural life'' - A review of Abitabyss' ''Rural Métal''

    Abitabyss - Rural Métal (2014)

    Abitabyss is a death metal trio from a village in North Western Quebec that mocks the stereotypes of their rural surroundings on the entertaining ''Rural Métal''. Topics such as hunting trips, mining work and farm life are portrayed in an amusing and entertaining way. Especially the numerous radio play passages with dialogues between some stereotypical characters based upon the names of the band members in French are very funny. Sound samples of moose or sheep among others add some more authentic diversity. The lyrics are mostly performed in English but also revolve around rural stereotypes.

    Musically, the band mostly offers straightforward death metal but the trio occasionally proves that it has some solid musicianship and can also cover other genres. The opener ''Swompe Apokalypse'' has faster passages as well as breakdowns with discordant guitar sounds, more melodic riffs and short bridges with a more dominant bass sound. In combination with samples of swamp sounds, the opener is one of the best songs on this output. ''Trou Blak'' is one of the most memorable tunes and opens with an amusing dialogue between the three stereotypical characters. The song then becomes surprisingly melodic before it slowly evolves to an atmospheric and bleak black metal track. ''Frozen Souche'' is another more complex track based upon desperate black metal with occasional death metal influences. 

    There are also a few shorter tunes that work really well like the fast ''Chassassination'' that varies between brutal death metal but which also incorporates some dominant bass guitar parts and distorted guitar sounds. ''La Chaise du Barbier'' is much slower but just as brutal with its thunderous riffs and low vocals. 

    The album also offers two rather unusual bonus songs. ''Les Légumes'' is based upon a famous, catchy and somewhat ridiculous folk song from the children's television program Passe-Partout. The band managed to keep the catchy melodies of the original and to add their own signature sound somewhere between death and black metal. ''Ma Cheuve'' is a French-Canadian folk song performed by a main singer in front of a crowd that repeats the lyrics. Musically, this track only features percussive elements and could also come from one of the numerous neo-traditional folk bands from Quebec like Mes Aïeux.

    Even though I'm not a death metal aficionado, Abitabyss' ''Rural Métal'' is amusing, diversified, energizing, entertaining and memorable all at once. It's a welcome alternative to all the serious French-Canadian folk bands that talk nostalgically about mildly amusing rural traditions and that try to make propaganda for a slowly declining independence movement that will probably never be successful. Abitabyss don't take themselves seriously and still deliver high-quality musicianship and songwriting which makes them very sympathetic. If I travel to the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region one day, I will try to pass by the small community of Sainte-Germaine-Boulé.

    Final verdict: 85%

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