Abbot - Between Our Past And Future Lives (LP)
Catalog number: BRR030
There is an almost singular groove running through Between Our Past and Future Lives, the BloodRock Records debut full-length from Finnish four-piece Abbot. Not in the sense of songs sounding the same — though tones are at least consistent — but just that the material feels united across the manageable eight tracks/33 minutes in the mission of conveying a simplistic form of heavy nod. There are variations in tempo and mood, as cuts like “Grave Encounters” and “Mr. Prowler Man” pull back from the garage rocking push of “Diamond Heart” or the ultra-catchy “Moonsnake Child” from what seems to be even on the CD an intended side A to the short, unpretentious release, but even these are brought into the fold by a uniting factor. Near as I can tell, it’s swing. The whole record just swings. Front to back. Abbot‘s debut 7″, 2012’s Into the Light (review here), and the follow-up single, 2014’s Holy Mountain/Black Book, had that working for them as well, but it’s much different over the context of a full-length album, and in listening to Between Our Past and Future Lives, the entirety of the work feels propelled by drummer Antti Kuusinen‘s classic heavy rock swing, which underscores the fuzz guitar of Jussi Jokinen, Tapio Lepistö‘s bass and JP Jakonen‘s vocals, lower-toned and riding the laid back groove the band behind him has concocted, adding effects-laden harmonica to the opener “Child of Light,” which bookends with closer “Keep on Moving,” the two tracks being the only ones here over five minutes long while the rest keep firmly in the three-to-four-minute range.
“Keep on Moving” is essentially the defining ethic of Between Our Past and Future Lives. Lines from its chorus, “Keep on moving because you’re free,” appear reprinted in the liner of the CD digipak, and if there’s a more succinct way of conveying what the album is trying to do, I’m not sure what it might be. Psychedelic touches make themselves felt here and there — that harmonica at the end of “Child of Light” is one of them — but for the most part, Abbot stay more grounded in an earthy Sabbathian loyalism that roots itself even to the first lines of the album, the opening lyrics being, “Going home, late one night” à la “Faeries Wear Boots” from Paranoid. That Abbot would push the Sabbath factor so much to the front makes their approach seem all the more sincere, and Jakonen‘s vocals start out more in that vein as well before settling into the low-register delivery of the subsequent “Diamond Heart” and much of what follows, Jokinen providing backup at unspecified points. The second track has more of a rush to it, and sets up a back-and-forth play of pacing that continues through “Mr. Prowler Man” and “Keep on Moving,” the former a near-minimal, loose garage heavy rocker and the latter Abbot‘s most varied inclusion here and starting off slow, but picking up to a faster groove in which the chorus is delivered and the record is given its apex. In between, the likes of “Grave Encounters” and “Moonsnake Child” and “Supermind” — which starts side B if you’re thinking vinyl — dance back and forth with a playful kind of morbidity, some element of heavy ’70s threat running through “Moonsnake Child” that never quite veers into the murderous cultistry of Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, but winds up not far from it by the time “Mr. Prowler Man” swings into the picture.
Even mentioning that name risks putting Abbot in a category to which they really don’t belong of modern ’70s-minded cult rockers. In truth, Abbot owe way more to Pentagram than to anyone playing at devil worship, and that spirit begins with “Child of Light” and continues through side B’s title-track and closing duo, a flow quicker at times but never fully abating that carries the listener from one riff-based groover to the next, Kuusinen‘s swing and the analog vibe of the tones serving as the constants tying it all together. Interesting to note that the title-track is the shortest one here at 3:05 (not by much necessarily, but still), and while it feeds into the humble feel, it seems more likely happenstance than something Abbot considered when choosing the name of the record. Either way, that song gives way gracefully to “Mr. Prowler Man” and the languid, bluesy opening of “Keep on Moving,” which does, unfolding over six minutes a push worthy of the material preceding it and a hook to answer “Moonsnake Child” that finds itself aligned to Between Our Past and Future Lives‘ easy-rolling spirit. What stands the closer out most is how smoothly Abbot shift between the slower intro and the more uptempo verses and chorus that follow. Having established such counterbalances across their debut’s span, the final track sets them up for the natural next step, which is to further integrate those dynamics into their songwriting. Nothing I hear on Between Our Past and Future Lives gives indication they can’t or won’t get there, it’s just a matter of being able to “keep on moving” and making the most of the creative freedom they have. If a band has to have a motto, Abbot have chosen theirs well. - The Obelisk