Album Review: Assumption – Hadean Tides

Album Review: Assumption - Hadean Tides
Reviewed by Sam Jones

This has been quite the anticipated listen. Much has been teased about this upcoming Assumption record, coming for a mid-May release from the Death/Doom Italian quartet with new tracks offered and talk whispered in regards to its eventual release. Formed in 2011 and originally out of Sicily, but soon enough Emilia-Romagna, the band have been slowly but surely gaining confidence in their releases where each release they have appears to build atop their previous effort. Their first Demo dropped in 2012 before following it up in 2014 with their first EP: The Three Appearances. But 2018 would be rather momentous for the band, with the release of their very first full length record titled Absconditus which saw many positive reviews. Now, four years on, the band return for what fans are hoping is set to be another depraved and dark affair in the way only Assumption know how to bring. One of my most anticipated albums for some time, I was more than prepared to see what Assumption had in store for me.

With only 7 tracks altogether and a complete, 55 minute runtime we have to consider that Assumption are hurling some lengthy tracks at us. With each track around a minimum of 7 minutes, and closing out with a 14 minute epic, it’s safe to say Assumption aren’t afraid at diving into the mire and dragging their audience with them. What helps the band in this case therefore, is the way they approached songwriting and the record’s production. Their soundscape is a completely total and dense force, the walls of this album aren’t the kind that are going to let sound escape from any pore or cranny. Once you start this record you are officially in for the ride and there’s no getting out of it. Due to this immersion, you won’t be recognising time going by as notably than if the record was a little lighter on the production end. In addition, it’s nice to acknowledge that Assumption throw in a good deal of variety within their songwriting to keep tracks on the move without them either growing stale or repetitive. That isn’t always easy with the kind of tone Assumption are working with, and with tracks as long and crushing as they are here, so credit needs to be handed to the band in this instance.

One of the most striking things about this record is how deep they wished their guitar tone to sound. It’s not simply the main guitar riff itself but the bass too, that has been given depths equivalent to the Mariana Trench. What’s more, the band aren’t always playing at slow and trudging speeds. A good quantity of this record is actually played fairly quickly, so while the band will be slowing down every now and again their preferred pace is when things are much more in your face and much angrier. As a result, the overall soundscape they provide is downright cacophonous as you’re soon enveloped by a suffocating cocoon of tone and death. Ending notes linger on, their tones possessing great shapes and form to their sound. It isn’t a tinny sound by any means, and likely one of the most total and concrete-dense guitar tones you’ve heard yet this year.

Album Review: Assumption – Hadean Tides

The vocals here are the first in a long time I’ve heard, to actually match with the baritone depths the riffs manage to showcase. Forget about deciphering what’s being said, that isn’t likely to be case when you pop this record on for the vocals are nigh on reminiscent to Funeral Doom. The tone they emit complements the guitar work extremely well and, if anything, is what rounds out the record’s sound on the whole. Had the vocals been just a semitone or such higher than what they are on record, I don’t believe they would have worked. What’s more is how their power can still be felt even as the drums approach blast beat territory, alongside the more steamrolling guitar attacks too. In that case, the mixing has done well to differentiate the varying degrees of bass that are all milling round each other, and then separated each element, refining them, to ensure they can all be coherently made out and followed. Mixing a record like this must be a nightmare at times, so to hear the vocals as cleanly and deeply as they were performed as, is a great thing to recognise.

Where I think Assumption made their smartest decision, at least concerning track running, has been to include a 6 minute ambient piece slap bang in the middle of their record. The first thing this will do is massively break up their towering album into two distinct sections, splitting it off in the audience’s head that they are leaving part one and then entering part two. Secondly, it acts as a huge breather for the audience. The audience, by this point, will have endured nearly 25 minutes of crushing death/doom so a piece like this does wonders to give us the relief needed on such a suffocating record. But most importantly, “Breath Of The Deadalus” is a completely ambient piece; there isn’t a hint of instrumentation happening so the audience isn’t just getting a break from the vast tone the record propagates itself with but a total break from the instrumentation, it only furthers the immersive qualities this record possesses. So, by the time this piece is done, you’ll be all the more immersed in their sound and ready for the back half of their record.

But towards the end, the band really flip their approach to songwriting on its head. “Triptych” is a track that uses just bass and vocals for the entirety of its first half; it’s a rather creepy and unnerving section of the album to boot as well. This is a soundscape extremely removed from the band’s general identity which they spend a good portion of the record laying out, yet it genuinely bolsters the band as a whole because it’s something totally new we hadn’t yet heard from the band. The utilisation of cleaner, near whispering vocals is also effective too because it generates an atmosphere we don’t hear often out of death metal: the creeps. Then the final track, “Black Trees Waving”, is this massive 14 minute epic that fantastically balances devastating brutality with a diverse array of riffs and songwriting techniques to make sure the band never need to stop to slow down because the doom has become so laced into the DNA of this album. As album finishes go, this is a strong one for sure.

In conclusion, I found that Assumption’s sophomore release is one that only seems to get better the longer you’re venturing into it. At first it presents itself as a standard death/doom release, but soon its unfolding atmospheric and ambient elements you may not have been expecting to find. The band did well to ensure its structure lent a part to your enjoyment of the album as one crushing track after another, without respite, would still have worked yet, the audience would be at risk at being dulled down by the constant slew of mass. It throws plenty of surprises your way and there’s a lot to unwrap here. Ultimately this is a record more than worth your time, and a band to keep your eyes opened for.

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