Seedna – “Abyssus” (Stereogum Premiere)

“Abyssus” is the penultimate track on Seedna’s third album, Forlorn. As both titles imply, the Swedish quintet isn’t exactly suffering cheek cramps from all of the smiling. But Seedna aren’t stuck in the boring stasis of atmospheric black metal depression, either. First single “Wander” spent 22 minutes testing the range of your hearing by weaving together the highs, lows, loudness, and lulls of the atmospheric black metal, doom, psych, and post-rock promised by Seedna’s Bandcamp bio. Needless to say, the song was dynamic. And “Wander” definitely did wander, but it wasn’t exhausting. The friction between the contrasts sparked the song’s ignition in a way that felt earned. Yeah, it started and went somewhere. And yeah, 22 minutes, earned. Sort of like Forlorn’s album cover, time in Seedna’s world trickles quicker than expected.

The 11-minute “Abyssus” flies by in the same fashion, though you kind of want to wallow in its back half. Beginning with a pulsating build-up that has the same fog machine setting as gothy rock/industrial, the track soon moves into a cathartic doomy crawl. From there, it’s like Seedna step down tiered levels of misery. At 3:54, we hear guitars sounding like the chimes on Cthulhu’s clock. At 5:34, the pained howls in the background try to escape like wounded birds. At 7:23, a twangy guitar lead ties together the rhythm section’s heavy thumps; a between-note run that’s more from-the-gut than a scale. Clangs and crashes hit at 9:12, obscuring the timekeeping, making it feel like we’re floating. Finally, two minutes later, “Abyssus” relents. If you hit play again real quick, you hear how the beginning foreshadows something different than the actual end. At the very least, the remembered progression is unexpected, the “how did we get here?” riddle plaguing chronic fast-forwarders. Yet, if you play it straight through, especially the last five-or-so minutes of glorious downtrodden dirgedom, you just roll with it. Again, somewhere. Again, earned.

Originally lumped in with the gaze-y post-black metal shunned by Metal Archives’s “no page for you!” police, Seedna have been figuring out their own place in the world of metal experimentalism since adding more members. Last year’s Sulphur was their first as a fivesome. The four-song, 48-minute record pushed down the walls of the cubicle, freeing up the kind of promise Forlorn is starting to capitalize on. Guitarists Gabriel and Max can do quiet and loud, punishing and placid, without either feeling forced; afraid of negative space they are not. Singer Olle provides presence. Bassist Erik and drummer Johan, who really utilizes the whole of his kit on both the heavy and soft stuff, are the constants keeping Seedna on the rails. They now have a few 10-minute-plus songs under their belts that aren’t wastes of time; not an insignificant thing when considering the daily river of skippable streams. Don’t skip this one.

Forlorn is out 7/15 via Transcending Obscurity.

Tags: Seedna