I think every Death Metal fan has imagined a ‘what if’ situation surrounding Chuck Schuldiner’s stay in Canada when he joined Slaughter in 1986. Death Metal at that time was in its early formative years, the first bands with a proto-Death Metal sound started to appear and release their first demo tapes. They had their guitars tuned heavier and sought refuge in brutality and, most importantly, vocally they were looking for other ways to shape their aggression. This eventually evolved into the now widely embraced grunts. So, what if Chuck had decided to stay in Canada and what if this clearly more straightforward band would have blurred Chuck’s creative and visionary eye a bit. How might that have sounded then?
Well, I know, it would have sounded like Outre-Tombe on ‘Abysse Mortifère’. On earlier work by this Canadian Death Metal band, the influence of early Death and Slaughter was already prominent, certainly on the debut ‘Repurgation’ it was already close to it but its successor the Canadians seemed to pursue a somewhat more Swedish sound. A bit of, let’s say, Nihilist and ‘Left Hand Path’-Entombed and maybe a bit of Autopsy. On this ‘Abysse Mortifère’, however, the band sounds unusually fierce again. The simple almost punk-like drums, the lighter guitar sound and the somewhat chaotic-sounding guitar solos clearly suit the band better. The Chuck Schuldiner-vocals finish it off and provide a nice authentic sound. Although all of Outre-Tombe’s previous albums are also well worthwhile, it seems that on this ‘Abysse Mortifère’ everything comes together just right. The nicely rousing drums and the aggressive, hoarse barking vocals breathe much more the proto-Death Metal sound and makes Outre-Tombe a more unique experience in today’s Death Metal landscape where everything seems to lean more towards Incantation-like cavernous Death Metal. Moreover, on a song like ‘Exsangue’, we are treated to an unadulterated Bolt Thrower riff and a band like Autposy is also never far away in Outre-Tombe’s sound. Perhaps a bit trite to mention again, but the French language is also still definitely a unique selling point, I still don’t get that across my VM-Underground desk on a daily basis.
As far as I’m concerned, Outre-Tombe has now nestled itself among the better Death Metal bands of the moment. Sure, it is not original and does not seek the limits of filth or brutality, but Outre-Tombe is emerging as a band of pure Old School Death Metal beauty. And ‘Abysse Mortifère’ is just the ultimate proof of that. (FelixS)