Like 2006's Insomniac Doze, Envy's newest EP features song lengths all over the map, yet with the veteran Japanese act having expanded their musical approach even more so.
Opener "A Road of Winds the Water Builds" on Abyssal explores both ends of the band's wide-ranging spectrum, from solemn plucking guitars and frontman Tetsuya Fukagawa's remorseful demeanor to an explosive shimmer and his gravelly, penetrating scream. This is trademark Envy and progresses perfectly from Insomniac Doze, as it finds the band furthering their dynamic. "Road of Winds" continuously transitions back and forth between these two tactics for about its first half, then begins to slowly and surely develop a buildup that becomes more and more layered as it approaches the ten-minute mark, its final point. Fukagawa is back to an austere vocal style during this climb however, which suddenly dies as the 9: ticks away to the end.
Conversely, the second track, "All That's Left Has Gone to Sleep" is more of a melodic adaptation of the band's earlier days. It tops out at a considerably economical 4:00, with rolling drums and stop-start riffs opening things up. A particular pause at the 1:03 mark is spectacular -- a lone. atmospheric guitar is thrown into the background and brought quickly to the forefront before the full band kicks back in. They employ a similar trick another minute or so later, only more layered. A few more stop-starts are parlayed, with none easily predictable and always effective. This is the one moment on the EP where Envy arguably bear no resemblance to any of their Temporary Residence labelmates while sounding little like the San Diego, CA hardcore scene that influenced them so deeply early on.
The second half of Abyssal is wrapped up in admirable fashion by "Thousand Scars" and the aptly titled "Fading Vision" (a soft, brooding 4:44 cut that, with a shade of programming and Fukagawa's spoken word approach, sounds like a NASA transmission), even if the songs may pale a bit in comparison to the excellent one-two that initiates the disc. English translations of the lyrics in the liner notes also show off the band's broken poetry stylings (though the choppy flow might just be a result of the translation). Envy definitely bask even more in the glow of beautiful, orchestrally composed post-rock at points here, yet continue to spin it through their intense, traditionally geared delivery that further positions them as one of the most wonderfully effective and impressive international acts going so long.
All That's Left Has Gone to Sleep