Published Feb 24, 2016Following their exceptional 2015 full-length Into the Abyss, Greek death troupe Abyssus return with a noteworthy odds 'n' sods collection, Once Entombed. This hour-long release compiles, in reverse chronology, split releases with Slaktgrav, Morbider, Nocturnal Vomit, plus the band's debut EP, the Slayer-referencing Monarch to the Kingdom of the Dead.
Vocalist Kostos Analytis' growl is a dead ringer for Obituary's John Tardy, and his timbre propels the band in old-school-appropriate death marches. Fascinatingly, their debut material resembles old Bolt Thrower ("Servants to Hypocrisy," "Reprisal") with hints of Obituary ("Compromised," "Left to Suffer"), while "No Tolerance" bristles with NWOSDM-styled bridges and solos. "Days of Wrath" and "Remnants of War" are full-on late '90s Obituary worship, yet the band smacks of latter-day Unleashed on "Sacrifice," "Morbid Inheritance" and "Phobos."
As with the best compilations, this one includes a handful of covers: Slayer, the Exploited, Sodom, Asphyx's "Deathhammer" and a surprisingly tight take on Death's "Sacred Serenity," thanks to the melodic articulation of guitarist Panos Gkourmpaliotis. Abyssus' output may be derivative, but it's executed with methodical precision and a profound diligence that can only come from fans-before-musicians. (Transcending Obscurity)