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Hailing from Slovakia, and describing themselves as Transcendental Khaoblack Metal, Abbey ov Thelema started in 2009 as a dark ambient one man project, but have subsequently become a partnership in chaos. ‘Liber DCLXVI’ is their second album of genuinely disturbing ambient and experimental black metal. To give you an idea, there is probably the same perceived chaos in some of Abbey ov Thelma’s work that can be found in certain forms of out-there jazz. This will either turn you off completely or pique your interest. Listening to Abbey ov Thelema is certainly a demanding experience. Track two on the release, ‘De Apocalypsi Ioannis’, is a perfect example of this. It never stays still in its twists and turns, evoking more disturbance and drama the further you delve into its depths. As the album progresses, you know what to expect. The unexpected!

To mention some larger bands to get a start point for the sound, I would say Arcturus around ‘La Masquerade Infernale’ and Ephel Duath at their most extreme. BUT, I warn you, only take this as the start point. Arcturus like dark carnival ambience and Ephel Duath discordance in their music but Abbey of Thelema take it so much further, and then keep going. Whilst others might tone it down, they let the chaos run rampant and, when I say rampant, I’m talking about unhinged! Saying all this though, they do know when to rein the listener into (slightly) more comfortable ambient surroundings, slowly building up the disturbing sounds to once more turn the aural experience on its head.

The name of the band fits their music perfectly, taken from a small house in Sicily used as a commune and spiritual temple by Aleister Crowley in 1920. Just as Crowley’s commune was reported to be debauched, chaotic and full of genuine moments of horror, so is the music of Abbey ov Thelema. This is music you have to be in the mood to listen to, akin to projects and bands like Dead Raven Choir, Bann or early L’Acephale. There is nothing about this release that is easy listening and I’m sure Abbey ov Thelema intended it so. As to how to rate a band like this is going to depend on your personal standpoint on chaotic music to create disquiet. I personally like the depths to be found in this and give this a solid 7 out of 10. Subsequent listening may take it past 8 or the chaos may send me insane before I get that far! ‘Liber DCLXVI’ is an incredibly long album considering its discordant nature, which could prove to be its downfall to many listeners, but among the tracks there is experimental genius, chaotic insanity and disturbing aural vistas to be found.
Wraith Productions
Review by Paul Sims
5th August 2014
1) 0 - Hymnus DCLXVI
2) I - De Apocalypsi Ioannis
3) II - De Septem Signis et Septem Salpinibus
4) III - De Ascensione Imperii Peccati
5) IV - De Condemnatione Magnae Babylon
6) V - De Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia
7) VI – De Conclusione Saeculi
"...among the tracks there is experimental genius, chaotic insanity and disturbing aural vistas to be found."