Unpretentious as they are, Abbot are still the kind of band who make you want to describe everything with “thee.” Thee debut 7″ Into the Light has been released by thee label Red Sky, and finds thee Finnish four-piece rolling along classic doom grooves, etc. All of that applies to the two tracks of Into the Light, by the way. The single-guitar outfit – JP Jakonen provides standalone vocals and harmonica, Jussi Jokinen guitar, Tapio Lepistö bass and Antti Kuusinen the drums — recorded “Into the Light” and the B-side “Beyond the High Rise” in their rehearsal space in 2010, so they’ve had a little time to sit on them, and while their Oct. 2012 cassette, All and Everything (limited to 100 copies), is based around the life of Greek philosopher G. I. Gurdjieff — he of the waking sleep — Into the Light has no such abiding thematic. That leads me to think that the later release, which is the 7″, was recorded first, and the rudimentary nature of “Into the Light” and “Beyond the High Rise” bear that out.
The 7″ is limited to 300 copies on black vinyl in a cardboard sleeve, and boasts artwork by Daniel Matsui, and its opener is the longer of the two pieces at just under six and a half minutes. Immediately the riff leads the way. Jokinen‘s guitar is the guiding force throughout the entirety of Into the Light, and the rest of Abbot follows the course he sets with the riffs. Even Jakonen’s vocals align themselves to the guitar’s patterns, working in subtly doomed melodies not so far from the spirit once conjured by Reverend Bizarre but neither totally attached to it. “Into the Light” works at a slow march, enough so there’s movement within it, lumbering though it may be, but still in no general rush. Kuusinen‘s drums keep the plod pretty simple as well, moving from the bell to hard-hit fills that call out transitions between the verse and the chorus movement. The hook of the song is largely in the riff, but that’s enough to carry it across anyway, since the ideas are fairly simple, and the harmonica that appears to donate a solo to a (relatively) shuffling blues jam bridge provides a shift just where one is most needed before the verse resumes prior to the four-minute mark. A long outro movement has Jakonen experimenting with vocal effects over suitably stoned guitars for a semi-psychedelic feel, and though one feels as though Abbot could probably get another six or seven minutes out of that riff — nothing seems to be preventing them from doing exactly that, save perhaps for the limited capacity of the 7″ record — “Into the Light” comes to an abrupt end with as little ceremony as it arrived.
Beginning with a jarring tape noise and a quicker, more immediate stoner bounce, “Beyond the High Rise” is catchier than the A-side and so makes a formidable complement. The natural, Sabbathian vibe of the preceding cut is retained, and Jokinen‘s guitar is still definitely running the show, but the band as a whole seems more comfortable in the uptempo context, and they move deftly from the harmonica at the beginning to the swirling “lead” in the second half without any upset of flow or sacrifice of structure. There’s a mini-build about three quarters of the way through the total four-minutes, of which Jakonen‘s harmonica is a charming part, and though “Beyond the High Rise” ultimately shares “Into the Light”‘s lack of flourish arrangement-wise, it also shares its engaging riffs, thick tones, organic vibe and — considering it was recorded in a rehearsal space — surprisingly solid production. Into the Light may prove a one-off for Abbot, considering the concurrent tape is reportedly one of a series of cassingles, but the songs prove their worth no matter how representative they either do or don’t wind up being of where Abbot are headed conceptually and stylistically. Either way, Into the Light, as a first physical manifestation of Abbot‘s output, goes to show that Pori, which also produced experimentalist improvisers Pharaoh Overlord, might not be done contributing to the heavy underground yet. Fair enough. Both “Beyond the High Rise” and “Into the Light” show an affinity for the landmarks of doom and a desire to make their own stamp on the sound. For a debut release, that’s about all one can ask.