A Review of the album "Portrait of the Abyss Within" by "Eldritch" Italy's Premiere Progressive Thrash Metal Band
Portrait of the Abyss Within is the band's 5th album
Eldritch, a progressive and thrash metal band started their career as a progressive metal band. But that all changed with the release of 2001’s Reverse. And then in 2004, they came out with the album Portrait of the Abyss Within. The original version has 11 songs. However, there is also a European version that has two bonus tracks and it is the one that I have. "Eldritch" is from Italy and the two constant members that have been there with the band since the beginning in 1991 are Terence Holler (also known as Mario Tarantola) and Eugene Simone. Otherwise, the band has had several lineup changes throughout their 20 plus years in the music business. I mentioned how with their debut album Seeds of Rage, Eldritch started off their career in excellent fashion. With Portrait of the Abyss Within, they show why they are one of the best metal bands to come out of Italy and Europe in general.
Songs List for Portrait of the Abyss Within (Original Release)
- Muddy Clepsidra (instrumental)
- The World Apart
- This Everlasting Mind Disease
- Picture on the Wall
- Dice Rolling
- Blindfolded Walkthrough
- See You Down
- Slow Motion K’ Us
- Lonesome Existence
The musical style of the album and the lyrical themes of the songs
The album is not totally progressive as there are some thrash metal elements in there. Actually, it is more accurate to say that this album is another example of power thrash with some softness thrown in there. Songs like “Picture on the Wall” showcase the band’s ability to write ballads and make them fit the album well. The mentioned song is short being just over 2.5 minutes and features Terence doing his soft style vocals. There is also some guitar work in there to finish it off. There isn’t really going to a major discussion about the lyrical themes but this will be a review of the album and it will discuss the musical elements of it. There will be brief moments where some of the lyrical themes may be explained however. This album is a great album to sing along with because of Terence’s smooth yet aggressive vocals at times. The lyrics tend to deal with subjects such as dysfunctional relationships, depression, and loss of motivation in life. By listening to this album, you can get a feel for what the real world life is like and it gives the listener some perspective on the way that life is. The catchy song The World Apart is about someone that is trying to get used to being alone in a world where he feels that things are falling apart.
The song This Everlasting Mind Disease sets the tone for the rest of the album
“This Everlasting Mind Disease” is the first real evidence we see of some thrash metal. It is at the beginning when the song starts. This is one of the first songs that I listened to from the album and also the first song that talks about someone whose mind has been ruined due to a destructive relationship. He feels that his partner used him in order to get what she was looking for. As he looks around, he sees that his life is a broken mess. Most of us can relate to something like this. I love the way in which Terence expresses himself in this song. This one is highly recommended.
"This Everlasting Mind Disease"
The Songs Lonesome Existence, Shallow Waters, & Quiet Hope
The song “Lonesome Existence” has an interesting beginning to it. It starts with some nice, melodic, soft guitar before going into a melodic mid-tempo song. These guys should be getting more attention than they are. They don’t follow what the trends are and they stick to the style of music that they are best at. Eldritch’s best style is melodic progressive thrash which is what this album is and they do it very well. The two bonus tracks on the album are “Shallow Waters” and “Quiet Hope.” Drowning features some very melodic vocals by Terence. The song is about someone who feels that people hate him because of what he does. He does not seem to care and he will be content with feeling this way. This song can also describe someone with a very low self-esteem.
Seeds of Rage vs. Portrait of the Abyss Within
Which one of these two albums is the better album overall?
"See You Down"
Final Thoughts About Portrait of the Abyss Within
If you want to hear super-fast songs, “Slow Motion K Us” is an example of this. Right from the start, the heavy guitar picking starts and the drumming kicks in and the listener is treated to some fast and intense guitar work. Another stand out song on the album is the ever so catchy “See You Down.” With Portrait of the Abyss Within, Eldritch takes their status as a band to a new level. They have transformed themselves from a band that was good to a band that can be considered one of the elites in Europe and the entire world. The album gets 90 out of 100 for its consistent songwriting, great melodies and a voice that is awesome.
Even though Eldritch is described as progressive metal, such a characterization is inaccurate because they don’t only use symphonic elements and keyboards like Dream Theater does, but they use melodic riffs to really differentiate themselves from most progressive metal bands and in their later albums, they don’t use as much keyboards. Bottom line: Portrait of the Abyss Within is an excellent album but it may not be as good as Neighbourhell, the next album that would come. Eldritch proves that they are Italy’s best progressive thrash metal band.
© 2016 Ara Vahanian