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Review by Craig Leahy

As New Zealand’s most trusted source of information, I have to make you aware of a slight conflict of interest in this review. I absolutely fucking adore the dudes we’re going to be talking about today. I love them as people, I love them as musicians and they’re my personal favourite death metal band in New Zealand. On that note, these guys are nerds and it is my duty to warn society about their weeb ass escapades.  


Okay man, bear with me for a minute, I’m gonna tell you a quicky story so you have the frame of reference of the exact kind of people we’re going to be talking about here today.


The other day I was walking through the mall in Lower Hutt because online shopping is too convenient, I want to choose from places that never QUITE has what I want, keep me humble you know? So, I’m coming down that escalator everyone just stands on instead of walking down for some reason, and I see this guy walking by EB Games. He’s a short king, maybe mid-thirties, holding his girlfriend’s hand, seems like a total cuzzie, then he stops. His whole ass face lights up at something he’s seen in the EB Games window, his girlfriend looks at him losing his mind, she fakes a smile then just kind of walks behind him into the store. I’m overwhelmed with curiosity at this and try my best to go around people standing still on the escalator. By the time I get to EB Games I have a little look to see what the fuss was about, he was in there holding the biggest box you’ve ever seen in a gaming store and on the front of the box, it says the words,


“Marvel Legends Series - Thor’s Hammer Replica”


Dude is walking to the counter to use his actual money that he made from his actual job as a grown ass man in his thirties to buy the fucking hammer of Thor, I put fucking money on him having said ‘it’s for my mancave babe!” Fuck me, but whatever I’m seriously not trying to judge this guy, people like comics, whatever. Dude legit seemed cool as hell, absolutely whatever you love, go spend your money on it and don’t let some loser talking into the void like me EVER tell you what to do. Just that Thor’s Hammer is so far out of my world that I just need to know more about this guy. So about half an hour later I’m driving home to the Capital of New Zealand, Stokes Valley and I can’t get this fucking guy out of my mind. Thor’s Hammer, fuck me. Now I’m feeling a little judgey and not gonna lie, I got a little petty. I pull into my driveway, pull out my phone and go on the EB Games website, type the words ‘Hammer of Thor’ into the search function, I gotta know. My face drops, this thing costs $300. I’m losing it at this point, $300! I go into my house and tell this story to my beautiful fiancé. She’s currently pregnant and our daughter is sitting on her sciatic nerv so she couldn’t even get up to avoid this story if she wanted to, perfect scenario, she’s totally immobile. But like she’s enjoying the story, she’s having fun, having a little laugh or whatever, then at the end of the story she puts down her Coke Zero, looks me dead in the eye and says these words to my face…


“You have a Dark Souls Figurine”


BAM, fucking dead. She’s fucking right too, the difference is I was drunk as fuck, got it online and have ZERO memory of ordering it, now it sits next to my computer to remind me not to buy stupid ass shit on weird websites. Also, Dark Souls is for cultured, sophisticated aristocrats and Marvel is for people who pay for Tinder. Side note, I told my friend Felix this story recently and without skipping a beat asked me “Well, is he a Marvel collector or a hammer collector?” Hahaha, you know what, fuck that’s a good question.


EDITORS NOTE - Good news, looks like the hammer is on sale for all you animals that immediately started frantically googling where to buy one.

Why am I telling you about EB Thor you ask? Because for a little over two years New Zealand has been waiting on ONE BAND to finally release something other than grainy footage shot on a 2007 Sony Handycam from Harvey Norman (you know the ones), and that band is full of guys just like our dripped-out Marvel fan. The true scourge of the New Zealand scene… nerds.


So I’m sitting there last Friday night, had been a brutal week so decided to stay at home and polish my Dark Souls figurine, unfortunately missing the Mammuthus album release show, but fortunately missing the Into Orbit opening set. It’s like 10pm and I get a notification on my phone, it’s one of my favourite people in the scene, Grant from local procrastinators, Abysm. He swiftly asks what my email is, I give him the Gone for Smokes submission email, then not 10 seconds later BAM, he hits me with their upcoming EP. Absolutely fucking floored me, I cannot stress enough how much everybody in the NZ metal community has been waiting on this fucking album man. I ask him when the album comes out as these reviews usually take about three weeks to complete, that includes fully digesting the album and re-writing the review a few times. The album comes out the following week…


After being a bit passive aggressive to him, I accept the challenge, but it has to be on my terms, I’m not cancelling any of my Saturday plans, I’ll multitask. And those Saturday plans you might ask? I spent Saturday learning how to make chocolate chip cookies for my daughter. This actually worked out quite well, if the cookies were shit, I’d blame these losers and their shit album.


You currently may only know Abysm as that band you see tagged 100 times under every single one of Valhalla’s posts about who should open for whatever international band, Jesus Christ always with Abysm, but for good reason – This band fucking KILLS. They’ve been my favourite death metal band in New Zealand for quite a while now, and the idea of them having this album finally available is really fucking exciting and I promise you, if you didn’t know who Abysm was before this, you will absolutely know who they are once this thing drops. Since this is their first album, before I talk about it, let me introduce you to these boys.


First we have Boyd ‘The Brains‘ Fransen on guitar and vocals, who I fucking adore, this guy is the sweetest and most sincere dork you’ll never meet, and he literally has his personal email listed on the bands Facebook page for contact, I don’t know why this is so funny to me, but here we are. Liam ‘The Looks‘ Buckley on bass and vocals who even though he plays bass, looks like every single rhythm guitarist from every single Swedish melo-death band EVER, seriously look him on up Facebook then go straight to any melo-death bands site and tell me I’m wrong, far out what a baddie. We’ve got Dean ‘The Braun‘ Clinton on drums, who is the only drummer in NZ not to play in 14 bands, because he’s the only drummer in NZ who has a good career prospects and doesn’t need to, and finally we have Grant ‘The Meat’ Holden on guitar and vocals who is widely known for having the biggest, fattest penis in the entire NZ metal scene.


I swear to god at least one of these dweebs has a sword collection in their house, I’m just not sure who yet. Don’t worry, I’ll find ya, and I’ll fuckin’ expose you too.


So, at this point it’s Saturday morning and I head off to grab some of that flaky sea salt shit for the top of these cookies. I’m planning to do my first listen in the car, it’s not a super long drive to the supermarket in Petone so I figure I’ll get through maybe half the album then finish it at home. This was my first surprise, this fucking EP is only 13 minutes long. Okay first of all, I’m a hardcore kid from way back, 13 minutes is the PERFECT length for an EP, or an album for that matter, the new Alienator 7” is only 8 minutes, and that shit went straight onto my end of year best of 2023 list, the length is not the problem here. But when this album finished and I wasn’t even halfway to the supermarket, just driving in silence, it really got me thinking. Bro, do these guys realise how much of NZ is waiting for this fucking EP? I’ve played lots of shows with Abysm in the past, and a few weeks back I was sitting out back of Valhalla hanging out with them, I was listening to Boyd and Grant talk about Quake Arena for what felt like fucking hours when these words literally came out of Boyd’s mouth “Oh I had to stop playing ranked Quake Arena with Grant because I can’t keep up with the practice schedule”

The fucking practice schedule.


I’m like, motherfucker do you realize that half of New Zealand is waiting on you virgins to release 13 MINUTES OF MUSIC, and you’re out here talking about practicing Quake Arena. I guess we’ll have to wait four years for the full length while we wait for Dean and Liam to finish designing their fucking Fortnite skins as well.


Fuck me, the state of it. Okay, Quake Arena aside, I have to say. I spun the EP a few more times while making the cookies, and fuck me this EP is perfect. There’s not a single wasted second on here, every song could be the opener and every song could be the closer, they’re ALL just that good. Genuinely the most actual fun I’ve had with a metal release in ages. Abysm have a very specific brand of death metal that brings in influences from the hardcore/mathcore scene that is reminiscent of bands like The Red Chord or the faster 200 Stab Wounds material. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if a label like Maggot Stomp heard these guys and demanded distribution rights, Abysm would be fucking perfect for Maggot Stomp.


Abysm separate themselves from the death metal pack by approaching song writing in way that fully respects the bands that have come before them, but by never sticking within the ‘rules’ of what a death metal band can sound like. The song writing approach reminds me of a band like Blindfolded and Led to the Woods, not that they sound similar, but similar to Blindfolded, Abysm do what they fucking want, and it never misses.  One big advantage Abysm has is having three singers, and while three singers sounds like it should be exhausting, or even unnecessary, each of the boys is bringing something different to the table. Liam brings excruciating highs and mid-range screams with a traditional death metal flavour reminiscent of the latest Gatecreeper record. Boyd brings a fucking horrifying roar that oozes early 2000’s Hardcore articulation and delivery that wouldn’t be out of place on a Red Chord covers channel on YouTube. And Grant just oozes the energy of that fucking guy who is always one turned back away from playing fucking Fantomas at a house party. Ugh we get it, Directors Cut is all movie themes but we’re just trying to have fun man can you just play Bolt Thrower, yea I’ve seen The Godfather, you don’t need to play it I believe you. Never turn your back on Grant at a house party.


If you play Fantomas at a house party, you should instantly be put on a no-fly list.


The dual guitar attack of Grant and Boyd is legitimately so fucking impressive, while the riffs are heavy and crushing at all times, they quite often veer away into more mathcore, almost noiserock noodling that always has the potential of being annoying, but never is, their styles compliment one another in way that not too many bands ever achieve, fuck me, it’s a thing of beauty. But as we all know, guitarists are fucking idiots, and they’d be nothing without an immaculate bassist lifting them up. This is where Liam shines, his tone is gnarled, always in the mix and to be quite honest, his tone seems frustrated at all the Quake Arena talk so continuously ups its intensity to drown out all the talk of lootboxes or what the fuck else ever gets talked about in that band room.


The secret weapon of this band is Dean. Dean needs to be in the conversation of best drummer in the country, he’s been tucked away in fucking Tauranga for some reason not releasing this EP, so give it six months and everyone will be talking about how fucking insane this guy is. Dean’s performance here is an all timer, he’s a heavy hitter and thinks about his rhythms in a way that not a lot of death metal drummers do, it’s like he never forgets that this shit is meant to be fun. Sounds simple but so many drummers seem to miss this quality, or it’s not important to them for whatever reason. Why do so many of you hate fun?


I’m not going to go through every track individually here, but I am going to direct you towards one song in particular, and that song is called ‘Alive in a Cave’. This song is fucking unbelievable and encompasses everything I adore about this band. As soon as Grant emailed me the review copy of Neuroses my first reply was “I can’t even tell you how happy I am to have a recorded copy of Alive in a Cave man, I walk through life bumping that last riff constantly” and it’s true, this song is where every single member of this band brings every single bit of creativity in their being to make something truly fucking special. Far out, that last riff is an all timer of a riff, no question. In my Blindfolded review I sang praises about the song ‘Cicada’, and I’d put ‘Alive in a Cave’ right up alongside it, truly transcendental pieces of death metal, both of them.  God damn, I’m so fucking proud of these boys right now.   

There’s only one complaint I have that I absolutely have to bring up. I consume anything to do with Abysm as soon as it comes on my timeline, and a couple of months ago the new episode of The Distorted Transmission (kind of a podcast/interview style show with NZ bands) came up, so I’m sitting there watching this thing, and Will Stairmand had the fucking nerve to call this band ‘young’. I’m like, hang on two members of this band are 26, we’re calling 26 young now? Greta Van Fleet were already at those weird Bilderberg sex parties just SLAMMING at 19, Greta Thunberg had already had a fist fight with Andrew Tate and kicked his ass at 18, but we’re praising these dorks for playing video games at 26? No. I won’t stand for it. 26 is when you should drop all this death metal nonsense and start a hardcore band to cling onto the 2006 scene or start a doom band because no one wants to jam with you anymore. Fuck me, someone tell these guys they’re past their prime and to start a Shai Hulud worship band with me.



You know what, I’m done talking about this EP. I think you get it by now, this shit is fucking perfect. The EP is out on Friday the 14th of July (Happy Matariki!) and you need to go pre-order it. I’m literally going to listen to it again right now.


Oh, the cookies? Dude they fucking ruled, check this shit out.


Imagine if the EP stunk, my daughter would be eating shitty cookies her whole life because I refuse to take accountability for anything.



Abysm – Neuroses – 5 empty G-Fuel cans your mum refuses to pick up off your bedroom floor out of 5, absolutely fucking perfect EP.

Neuroses can be pre-ordered HERE and I strongly recommend you do that right now.

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