The Dead End - Rockfreaks (Denmark) 9.5 of 10
This review has been a difficult one to conjure up. More so than almost any other review I´ve done thus far, this third album by Swedish doomsters Abandon is one big, and staggeringly difficult listen, yet hidden beneath the tapestry of suffocatingly tortuous doom processions is an album that has frankly left my jaw on the floor. You will have to accept my apologies that I am certifying this album so highly after just four listens. I have had little opportunity for music listening of late, but more so, "The Dead End" is a terrifying 106 minutes long; pop punk this is not.

Now I don´t know if it is related to the direction my life seems to be heading but recent times have uncovered a passion deep within my darkest recesses for the most painful, crushing doom metal on a scale such as this. The latent struggles felt within listens to "The Dead End" are only enhanced through learning of the album´s posthumous release to singer (and artist of the wonderful accompanying artwork) Johan Karlsson who passed away through an overdose last December. Karlsson´s infrequent howls are chilling; the sound of a man who, if not knowing he was on his last legs, was certainly at odds with the world. It is the aforementioned infrequency of his appearances over the 106 minutes that add credence to his power, where in a style reminiscent of that deployed by the excellent Bossk, the drama is accentuated in those moments deemed worthy of his depressive wailings.

In the album´s blurb the band stress the toll that "The Dead End" has taken on them, and right from the outset one gets a sense of how true that statement could be. "Bitter The Surface" opens with the wonderful thick, heaving sound of Mehdi Vafaei´s pump organ as it gently caresses you through the entrance of territories soon to be plummeted by the Cult Of Luna influenced doom works. Permanently slow, Abandon trawl through a psyche of crawling dirging doom that is accentuated by the faint organ work backing the likes of "In Reality Suffer", a song which feels like an attempt to exorcise evil spirits lurking in the minds of "The Dead End"´s makers. The thickness to be found in the riffs of songs such as "It´s All Gone" and "Pitch Black Hole" lend to the suggestion of Abandon being a sludge band, a classification while not wholly incorrect, sits less comfortably with the gradual progression into funereal and droning territories in the album´s second half.

With five songs lasting over 11 minutes and a total running time far exceeding the length of a football match, Abandon are in no hurry to reach their final destination, and are determined to take you on the sorrowful journey with them. The title track of the album feels like a requiem to their fallen comrade, being a 14-minute instrumental riding an amalgamation of Cult Of Luna´s tone and the religious diction of later, more plodding Reverend Bizarre works. The result is gloriously melancholic, as organ, bass and guitar all take their turns to lead the descent into remembrance. During survival of the following final three songs, which themselves take a combined 45 minutes, my thoughts turn from appreciation of what had up to this point been a very good album into something truly great.

Recalling the very same thoughts one tends to appreciate during the bleakest of doom experiences, "It´s All Gone" is raised magnificently by Karlsson´s clean harrowing vocals. Too prostate and slow for no doubt even many doomsters, Abandon in the latter stages begin resembling the likes of Asva, Warning and Teeth Of Lions Rule The Divine where the feel suggests not what they want to do, more all they can do in a battle against external forces pressuring against them. This pressure comes to some kind of release in 19-minute closer "Eulogy" where after seemingly hours of knocking on drone´s door Abandon are finally entered with a piece that brings to a quiet solemn and dignified end their closure on the death of a friend and bandmate. Fittingly, it is the organ that dictates the final song so well, as it did the opening track and much of the material sandwiched in between.

Whether it remains to be seen that Abandon will ever release another album following "The Dead End", it has a feel proximate feel to Reverend Bizarre´s final work "So Long Suckers" in that they seem to be acknowledging their own fate in the closing periods of the album, knowing we are remembering the death of more than just one man at this point, but of a band too. Just trying to make it through the extended duration of "The Dead End" is challenge enough but come it´s conclusion, the journey has felt necessary and logical, as never do I question the direction or time taken in doing so. In a year with some superb releases this has got to be the most extreme; "The Dead End" will serve as a great testimony to the departed Johan Karlsson in a quite extraordinary way.
- EW

The Dead End - Metalrage (Netherlands) 88 of 100
This double album of Abandon is probably the hardest album I have ever reviewed. Before the release of the album the vocalist Johan Carlzon died of an overdose at the age of 32. Johan Carlzon is responsible for all the lyrics and the artwork of the album.

Knowing that the vocalist died of an overdose doesn´t make this album any easier to listen to. The music on the album has this really dark atmosphere which contributes to idea of a dedication to Johan Carlzon. After the four minute “intro” Bitter The Surface I have goosebumps all over my arms. This is just the right mood when the gloomy track Pitch Black Hole kicks in and it sends shivers down my spine. The dreariest part is probably the lyrics of the track. Reading them gives you almost the feeling that he knew he was going to die.

Lost We Are is the third track on the album and it´s the first track to exceed over the ten minute line. This occurs several times more on this double album. During those long songs Abandon takes all the time to create a dark atmosphere that burst out from time to time. It´s within those songs that I can close my eyes and picture apocalypse in front of me. The second record isn´t any different to the first one. Again there are some great powerful songs that grab you by your throat and holds it in a stranglehold for the entire album.

This double album is full of heavy, atmospheric and dark music. Especially the second disc gives you the feeling of being at a funeral were you can touch the grief of the people that are present there. This album is truly a remarkable release that of course is dedicated to Johan Carlzon RIP
- Niamen

In reality we suffer - Metalreview (USA) 8.8 of 10

Anyone who has ever had a dog, and preferably a large dog, will know exactly what I mean. You know when your dog quickly snatches up something he´s not supposed to have—a dropped hamburger or a dead bird, and you´re pissed and/or concerned enough that you forcibly wrench open his clenched jaws and shake his head in order to free the offending object, dangerously denying the dog of his ill gotten prize? Well that kind of aggressiveness and yielding under protest is what I´m reminded of when I hear the music on Abandon’s In Reality We Suffer. It’s as if rather than simply playing the instrument, Ingvar Sandgren and David Fredrickson (bass) grab their instruments firmly by the neck and forcibly coerce dissonant melodies from their recalcitrant strings. In any case, one gets the clear impression that musical expression is a painful and exhausting process for band and instrument alike. In Reality We Suffer is an exercise in the exquisiteness and delayed gratification of creeping, harsh sludge in the vein of a more doomish Cult of Luna and Neurosis, although comparisons to Khanate, Today is the Day, and Eyehategod could also be made.

The untitled instrumental that opens the album immediately sets a tone of bleakness that persists throughout the album´s 76 minutes. Consisting of sparse rumbling, a repeating, slow, tribal drum pattern, and occasional quiet guitar phrases, the two and half minute song has an effect much the same as the way the amber bulb in a darkroom immediately and wholly casts a different visual perception of your surroundings. “Trauma is the Trigger” continues briefly in that same trudging pace, before awakening and careening back and forth between doomish swells and pummeling outbursts. “Somnabulistic” and “Piles of Pigs” employ a quicker pace and off kilter riffs and fret sliding, which along with Johan Karlsson´s raw barking shouts, provide a dark, frantic aggressiveness. In Reality We Suffer is a little like a photographic negative image of Isis’ Panopticon, in that both albums contain well constructed melodies as leverages to heavier moments, but while Isis have a lush sound and sometimes a calming effect, Abandon use a bare bones, discomforting, stark meditative method. If Isis conjures visions of the sea, Abandon calls to mind rocky, barren crag.

In Reality We Suffer is not always an easy listen, but what pushes the album from average to excellent is the band´s skill in developing the songs with just the right types and amounts of melody and tempo changes, which break up the trudging sections and provide texture to the raw, stark outlay. There is a growing number of bands playing this style these days, but despite their forgettable moniker, Gothenburg´s Abandon are more than capable of emerging from the pack. Finally, Abandon have produced some Gothenburg metal for the rest of us. Highly recommended.
- Matt Mooring

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