Sebastien Bismuth: Vocals, Guitars
Nicolas Heller: Guitars
Guillaume Colin: Bass Guitar
Benjamin Colin: Drums
Ed Mundell: Guitar Solos on "Big Black Cloud"
Pascal Mascheroni: Additional Vocals on "Tears Of The Sun"
Alexander von Wieding: Vocals on "Oceans Of Sand"
Thomas "Asmoth" Bellier: Additional Vocals on "The Maze"
Leo Tobisch: Backing Vocals on "War"
All Music written by ABRAHMA
All Lyrics written by Sebastien Bismuth
Except "Oceans Of Sand" by Alexander von Wieding
Published by Small Stone Records (ASCAP)
Recorded by Bejamin Colin at Hakesound Studios, Romainville (France).
Produced by ABRAHMA & Jason Groves.
Mixed by Eric Hoegemeyer at Rust Belt Studios, Royal Oak, MI (USA)
Mastered by Chris Goosman at Baseline Audio Labs, Ann Arbor, MI (USA).
Album Artwork & Design by Alexander von Wieding
Way to drop a 70-minute sludge fest on us, Small Stone! These Parisians are rooted in heaviness and tap into the many different nuances that come with that label. From ‘70s blues-metal (“Honkin’ Water Roof”) to Sabbath-inspired Seattle grunge (“Neptune of Sorrow”) to desert-rock psychedelia (“Headless Horse”) to doomy sludge (“Here Sleep Ghosts”), it’s all there. Monster Magnet fans should check out “Big Black Clouds” featuring a guitar solo by Ed Mundell. Possibly a bit too much to stick with through one sitting (70 minutes of sludge is pretty intense!), nevertheless this debut definitely deserves to be heard from start to end, especially if you dig bands like Clutch, Soundgarden, Kyuss and Neurosis.
Hailing from Paris, France, Abrahma are a three piece specialising in the kind of alt-stoner rock that isn’t often heard these days. Most of Dusty Paths sits happily in a sort of Alice in Chains meets Kyuss type groove. Across its sprawling 70 minutes Abrahma dip into quite a few different genres and styles, particularly the grunge, psyche and stoner areas of the last 30 years. The first track even contains a subconscious reworking of a riff from I’m Broken by Pantera. While they combine all of these influences with accomplishment, I can’t decide if there’s a slight lack of consistency as to what the band is actually going for or if the density and length of the album simply rewards more with repeated listens (and I have listened to this many times). I’m reminded of Mindfunk’s classic second and third albums, but Abrahma also seem to have an element of that commercial 80’s stadium rock thing going on. Allusions to anthemic sing-alongs and power ballads are definitely present, yet they have no issue stretching out passages beyond what a short of attention span listener might handle. Dusty Paths is a great album to be taken note of by any heavy rock listeners, but whether it’s a classic work or stymied by a little over indulgence will be up to the individual to decide.
- Chest Rockwell
This Parisian foursome have delivered a treasure trove of bright shining jewels, perfectly cut, formed to perfection, exquisite in composition and detail with "Through the Dusty Paths of Our Lives", an album of 15 catchy, heavy, clever, intelligent songs.
With help on the album from Ed Mundell of Monster Magnet notoriety playing solos on "Big Black Cloud", as well as the cover artist for the album, Alex von Wieding, who also is the musical mastermind behind Larmon Clamor, contributing the song and vocals for "Oceans on Sand . . . ". How cool is that?
There is plenty of fuzz and low tuned music laid expertly over clever and often ingenious melodies generating a climate of fun and fury for riffs and solos, vocals and rhythm, chorus and refrain in this stoner rock fest of an album.
- Nuclear Dog
The Parisian band Alcosohnic apparently decided they wanted to imbibe at the fountain of something headier than their current moniker and changed names to Abrahma. They have now released their debut 'Through the Dusty Paths of Our Lives', a 15-track testament to heavy-duty head-bending.
Anchored by two brothers on bass and drums (Guillaume and Benjamin Colin, respectively) and a solid crooner in Seb Bismuth, as well as two guitars courtesy of Bismuth and Nicolas Heller, the band’s sound is readymade for the Small Stone label.
Inspired by such heavies as Kyuss, Valis, Nebula and The Atomic Bitchwax, the band keeps things pretty concise, and add a little of their own character with passages of lonely reverbed guitar in several tunes to give the thunder something to contrast with. They also change things up with some bluesy slide guitar on ‘Oceans of Sand’, stretch them out on the near 11-minute ‘The Maze’ and drift away through a mind-altering soundscape on ‘... Here Sleep Ghosts’.
Monster Magnet fans might also want to check out ‘Dusty Paths’ for the guest guitar work on ‘Big Black Cloud’.
Overall, a solid effort that suggests a crushing live band, and which should satisfy fans of heavy, crunchy psychedelica.
- Andrew Carver
t's rare to encounter stoner-rockers as progged-out as these Parisians. Their album keeps going for 70 minutes, including a three-part something-or-other called "Vodun," and foreign sounds that seep out of the metal: placid psych sections; jazz-fusion time signatures; wah-wah spray warming into bluesy emotion; zoned crosstalk deep in the mix; seemingly a Deep Purple organ, though none is credited. Plus they swing like funky elephants when they want to. Maybe imagine early Monster Magnet (whose Ed Mundell takes a guest solo) crossed with the Doors-grunge pretensions of Days of the New?
- Chuck Eddy
The Parisian band Alcosohnic apparently decided they wanted to imbibe at the fountain of something headier than their current moniker and changed names to Abrahma. They have now released their debut 'Through the Dusty Paths Of Our Lives', a 15-track testament to heavy-duty head-bending.
Anchored by two brothers on bass and drums (Guillaume and Benjamin Colin, respectively) and a solid crooner in Seb Bismuth, as well as two guitars courtesy of Bismuth and Nicolas Heller, the band’s sound is ready made for the Small Stone label.
Inspired by such heavies as Kyuss, Valis, Nebula and the Atomic Bitchwax, the band keeps things pretty concise, and add a little of their own character with passages of lonely reverbed guitar in several tunes to give the thunder something to contrast with. They also change things up with some bluesy slide guitar on ‘Oceans of Sand’, stretch them out on the near 11-minute ‘The Maze’ and drift away through a mind-altering soundscape on ‘... Here Sleep Ghosts'. Monster Magnet fans might also want to check out ‘Dusty Paths’ for the guest guitar work on ‘Big Black Cloud’.
Overall, a solid effort that suggests a crushing live band, and which should satisfy fans of heavy, crunchy psychedelica.
- Andrew Carver
French quartet Abrahma beef up their stoner rock salvo on their latest 15-track affair, the sprawling 70-minute endeavor Through The Dusty Paths Of Our Lives. Creating a fully developed desert rock inspired delight brimming over with cosmic guitar crunch and spacious rhythmic hypnosis, this act specializes in riding crests and waves of hook-happy heaviness complete with hanging riffs and dark grooves aplenty. Satisfying followers from the psychedelic and sludgy blues metal spectrum with an aura of Zeppelin-esque majestic mystery and a sense of sinewy stoner metal solicitations, Abrahma deliver a galactic treat fortified with a powerful punch of soulfully derived heaviness.
- Mike SOS
Perhaps justifiably, the French have never been associated with souful hard rocking but Abrahma look set to change all that. Formerly operating under the name Alcohsonic, they pack the listener on a rocket ship to Saturn via the Deep South, their cosmic riff-ride taking in Louisiana swamp blues, Mississippi soul and SoCal space rock. Effortlessly catchy and executed with enough tightly-orchestrated panache to sell even their weaker moments, what they lack in cohesion they more than make up for with brashness, attitude and sufficient quality songmanship to sustain three lesser bands for years.
- David Bowes
Well, this new album from ABRAHMA is a first for me… For all of the hundreds upon hundreds of new release albums I listen to each year, never before have I had an album in front of me from Stoner band based in France. There’s been a lot of great hard rock and metal coming out of France over the last five years or so as other have mentioned, but the Stoner genre is one the French have yet to attack on a global scale.
The biggest positive comment I could give this album is that with it the band have actually managed to take the Stoner genre and blend it around just enough to give them what I would consider to be a slightly unique sound. They still fit finely within the compounds of the style, but with the addition of some Space Rock and the occasional modern-ish riffing, their sound is different enough that you could pick them out of line-up pretty easily.
The vocals are consistently good throughout the album, some thing that can’t be said about all that many French releases, and the intricate, moody guitar work rolls through your ears and seeps into your brain at every opportunity. The slight progressive-ish elements and the occasional modern element means that comparing ABRAHMA to MASTODON isn’t that far-fetched. As far as overall class and execution I think the album could have been a little bit better and would have benefitted from a little bit more cohesion at times. That being said though, songs like DANDELION DUST, BIG BLACK CLOUD and the ten-plus minute epic THE MZE show that there is a very strong foundation to build upon for the future.
I don’t think that THROUGH THE DUSTY PATHS OF OUR LIVES will be the album that helps ABRAHMA stamp their names into the bigger leagues, but I am certainly interested in keeping an eye out for what they do next. The sound and stlye that the band are exploring is one that is definitely worth persisting with and hopefully they will regroup after some hardcore touring work and write an album that will see them breaking out big all over the place.
Rating : 7/ 10
As album titles go, Through the Dusty Years of Our Lives seems a little inadequate for the debut of Paris, France's Abrahma. After all, based on its contents, one can't help but wonder why it wasn't named Through the Dusty Depths of the Universe or something equally descriptive of its fully baked (no pun intended) space rock aesthetic, both musical and lyrical (or maybe even Stooooners innnn Spaaaaaaace!). In any case, the title does sot of address its makers' long and winding trajectory up to this point, which involved a five-year slog through European clubs, a single LP released under former moniker Alcohsonic, a break-up, and then subsequent reawakening as seen here. And what a reawakening it is, too, via a forceful blend of psychedelic heavy metal and alternative rock influences jammed through the aforementioned hyperspace kaleidoscope to produce a hefty 70 minutes and 15 songs that often blend into one another with virtually no interruption. Superficially, this tactic recalls Captain Beyond's legendary debut, but that's really about as close as Abrahma get to the '70s; all else here smacks of the future, or at least the unfulfilled future envisioned by post-‘90s stoner rock space cadets led by Monster Magnet, whose former guitar wiz Ed Mundell delivers a scorching solo on "Big Black Cloud" (trivia: noted stoner/space metal illustrator Alexander Von Wieding also designed this cover art). Other space metal endeavors here include "Neptune of Sorrow" "Headless Horse," and the hypnotically lysergic "The Maze," and after highlighting those aforementioned modern rock elements on "Tears of the Sun" and "Dandelion Dust," Abrahma proceed to orbit around several additional celestial musical bodies as they zig-zag through the cosmos. There are multiple brushes past UFOmammut's sludge metal planet (see the seismic riffs sprinkled throughout), the odd, bluesy shuffle complete with slide guitars ("Honkin' Water Roof," "Oceans of Sand"), and, just when you think you've got them pegged, "Vodun, Pt. 1: Samedi's Awakening" whips up an ‘80s funk-metal groove, Pt. 2 ("I, Zombie") an echoing garage rock vibe, and Pt. 3 ("Final Asagwe"), a warped arena rock mutation. In sum, while all of the above is somehow sheltered within the confines of Abrahma's protective space suit, there's clearly quite a bit more (perhaps a little too much, actually) to Through the Dusty Years of Our Lives than initially meets the eye. Which would explain that album title of course…
- Eduardo Rivadavia
Parisienne walkways (to hell).
If like me you've always wanted to own a record whose cover features a levitating, meditating devil-goat, then look no further. Paris-based Abrahma have made an album that goes against the romantic grain of their home city in favour of something of an altogether darker nature. In their previous incarnation as Alcohsonic, the band made music based on '70s southern US rock. When that band had run its course, they re-grouped under new moniker Abrahma, swapping the southern cowboy horns for the horns of rock.
All notions of Paris being the city of light are flipped on their heads here as this is music that celebrates all things heavy. The riffs are heavy, the titles, lyrics and themes are heavy, the way the band plays together is heavy. And that's where the band's main strength lies, in that they do play well together as a band, a skill surely honed from their years on the road. They're at their best on the slower meditative tracks such as “Headless Horse” or when firing on all cylinders on “Vodun Pt.1: Samedi's Awakening”. (Contender for song title of the year if ever there was one!)
With little to indicate any tongues being in cheeks, the band are at times in danger of taking themselves and their music too seriously and getting lost under their own sludge. After all you need a little bit of light to make the shade. Full marks for giving though; if this is your kind of thing you get value for money with fifteen tracks making up a seventy minute odyssey through life's dark side.
- Duncan Fletcher
And yet another album where I don't know what to think about. In that case, it's the new full-length of the French four-piece ABRAHAMA, formerly known as Alcohsonic. At first I was really impressed by the huge riff-based heaviness and the progressive approach, but after a while I had to find out that 'Through The Dusty Paths Of Our Lives' is also pretty pompous and far too long. Regarding the latter, it would not have been a problem if ABRAHMA were interested in writing memorable killer songs. Instead, they only demonstrate their well-developed playing skills and their tendency to melancholic intellectualism. And for this, they need exactly 70:22 minutes spread over 15 songs. Damn, sometimes I miss the time when a full-length was only 35 minutes long.
Of course, you can give ABRAHMA the credit for being sophisticated and open for experiments. And actually, there are definitely some moments where the band succeed in adding something fresh to the standardized kind of Kyuss/Dozer sound. So I am sure that fans of both bands will find pleasure in 'Through The Dusty Paths Of Our Lives'. I, on the other hand, came to the conclusion that this album embodies appearance over substance, and the production is just too bloated and slick. A little more naturalness would not have done any harm. But at least, Alexander von Wieding had done a very nice cover artwork.
Formerly known as Alcohsonic, the Parisian band Abrahma seems to have traded a heavy-drinking party boy image for one of a more spiritual bent. The band’s new moniker could be read as an anagram of Abraham, the father of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, but some of song titles indicate a more eastern influence, making the name a reflection of Brahma, the Hindu god of creation. On the other hand, “Loa’s Awakening” and “Vodun” parts 1-3 firmly root the band in voodoo territory.
Whatever the origin of the name, the band’s sound ranges from gloomy sludge to chorus-drenched watery passages serving as a backdrop for multi-vocal mantras and solo voices put through various effects to give them an other-worldly feel. Throughout, the drumming is heavy and ponderous and perfectly placed. The drummer knows when silence is more important than beating the shit out of the kit, giving Abrahma a dynamic quality sorely missing in many metal bands today.
Blending 70s heavy metal blues with, sludge, psychedelia, and studio wizardry into a brilliant nimbus of noise, Abrahma’s debut on Small Stone records is as auspicious as it could be and places Through the Dusty Paths of Our Lives on the path for front-runner as metal album of the year.
- Trevor J Wallace
Parlez-vous sweet heavy-psych? Extra emphasis on the heavy.
Feel this album and you might understand: Abrahma.
Through The Dusty Paths Of Our Lives, their 70-minute Small Stone Records debut, is something I must experience, not just hear. Ya dig? It's...dare I say: epic? Yes, in every sense of the word. One may want to set aside some time for his or her first rock-filled trip, which is what I did after hearing the hype, reading the rave reviews and tasting some teaser tracks.
Taking cue from what I can only assume is the image of an obscure god of riff-creation on my cover-of-the-year so far, I sit cross-legged on the floor and place my forearms on my thighs, making the same circles with my index fingers and thumbs. Inhale. Exhale. Try like hell to levitate...but just can't. Damn gravity.
If the short intro, "Alpha", shows me the way to the light, then I get a sense of dark shadows from next four or five songs. Pulsing riffs on "Neptune Of Sorrow" are ominous and brooding, leading to a dynamic chorus, and "Tears Of The Sun" is a muddy, gritty damn boogie-fest. The grungy, "Dandelion Dust", and southern-tinged, bluesy "Honkin Water Roof" are nasty numbers.
Two more of my highlights are in the middle.. Just after the mystical "Headless Horse" - maybe my number-one song on the whole album - Monster Magnet's Ed Mundell plays a staggering solo on a sinister "Big Black Cloud". Just the fact that the legendary guitarist would make an appearance on this impressive record should tell you something. It did to me.
I think "Loa's Awakening (Prelude)" - combined with the "Vodun" trilogy (tracks, 7, 10 and 13) - could have been a decent ep by themselves. Part I, "Samedi's Awakening", makes me think of Pearl Jam's predecessor, Mother Love Bone. Great vocals and an upbeat funky groove. Act II, or "I, Zombie", has a rich Deep Purple swagger and the last, "Final Asagwe", has a dark southern swamp edge to it.
"Oceans On Sand..." is cool, a short narrative accompanied by blues guitar, which gives way to a bass-filled expansion of the mind, "...Here Sleep Ghosts." Tripped-out guitar effects as I begin to wind through "The Maze", one of the most kaleidoscopic heavy-psych tunes I'll hear this year. I'm sure of it.
Hold on...I think I'm levitating now. Either that or my ass is going numb. This a freakin' long album.
Ends with the mind-bending instrumental "Omega", another one of my top picks. Over six minutes of stomping grooves and psychedelic greatness. Awesome.
For me, there is an obvious drawback to owning a recording as epic as this one. It will probably have to be a double-album if I get it on vinyl, which means it will cost quite a bit more than the records I usually buy. Maybe I should start saving now.
One of Small Stone Records newest bands is also probably one of the heaviest and freshest bands I’ve heard so far this year. Their debut album (as Abrahma)
As soon as Through The Dusty Paths Of Our Lives begins you’re greeted to a short instrumental (“Alpha) that leads into the first track “Neptune of Sorrow.” It has this eerie and dark feel to it, as if Alice in Chains wrote it. The songs bring me back to my grunge loving days of the early to mid 90′s. As the album progresses it becomes quite obvious that the band’s decision to change from a “rock” band (then known as Alcohsonic) to a more harder and edgier stoner rock band was a good decision. Nothing against their old material but the newer stuff and the new identity, has certainly done them good. The album is like a roller coaster. One moment your slowly going to the top then you hit the top and it’s a fast ride down into the loop then up another hill. It’s the difference between songs, the fact that no two songs are alike, each has its own personality, and the range at which each note is played really sets this one apart from the rest. One minutes your rocking out to (and probably trashing whatever room you’re in) to “Big Black Cloud” then the next minute you’re tripping away to “The Maze.” Even the song “Oceans on Sand,” as slow and mellow as it is, has a bit of mystique about it.
Through The Dusty Paths Of Our Lives is huge. It’s massive. It’s exploding in sound. The album is long too clocking in at 70 minutes. It’s a lot of music to take in but once you’re sucked in, you’re in for the long haul. Small Stone has had some huge releases this year, and is promising more later. Through The Dusty Paths Of Our Lives is certainly going to stand out among them. Listen to “Neptune of Sorrow” below and grab the CD from Small Stone Records.
- Bill Goodman
Despite the romance of cafes, champagne and fine wines, Paris has an underbelly of darkness that few see and even fewer actually manage to hear, but Abrahma are here to show you just how heavy and dedicated some of those fine parisians are.
Formerly Alcohsonic, this French quartet have spewed a massive 15 tracks of sludge-laden heaviness that followers of Clutch, Monster Magnet, Orange Goblin and old skool '70s Purple will simply have to check out. Five years on the road as their previous moniker has toughened them up and ironed out all the kinks so that they can offer up this epic sounding bohemoth of an album. It's big sounding and offers up first class stoner riffage and doom-heavy, chugging riffs that should put them on your radar instantly.
Opening tracks 'Alpha', 'Neptune Of Sorrow' and 'Tears Of The Sun' tell you all you need to know about this band and not only that but simply how good they are. The songs are there, the riffage is golden, the drums are heavy and in lead singer Seb Bismuth, they have a secret weapon that is surely not going to stay secret for long!
All the songs are atmospheric, well crafted and executed with the precision of a band that have earned their chance to be heard. Considering this is deeply entrenched in stoner, you've got elements of southern, a slight blues angle and a definite '70s vibe that takes everything Deep Purple did and makes it even better to the point that don't be surprised to hear Ian Paice pop up as special guest in the future - that's how impressive Abrahma have made this disc.
'Vodun Pt1: Samedi's Awakening' marks a slight change in styles half way through the album - in comes a more uptempo sounding, almost 'happier' style that although different, seems completely in keeping with the band and their train of thought as it's all still a trippy dream that fits together (Don't go assuming that that is the end of the heaviness because you'd be very wrong).
'Through The Dusty Paths Of Our Lives' never gets boring - which I'd say is a major problem with stoner movement at times - and with over an hour of music is quite an achievement. In fact the whole gargantuan album feels like a massive dream that all the stoners will simply love - crank it up and listen to the whole 70 odd minutes and immerse yourself in the dusty path of Abrahma and if you search well enough, it's being streamed free on the net - how great is that! They've done everything they can to earn their shot at the title or at the very least be competing for the honour.
Who knew the French could be so bloody good?
- Ross Welford
A french band signed on a top-notch label like Small Stone records (Acid King, Gideon Smith, Backwoods Payback, Wo Fat and zillions more), immediately this is something that somewhere is pretty surprising (at least for us little frogs) but most essentially wins (y)our trust...
You know french people are often sarcastic and teasing towards their own scene and I already hear some reflections like "I can NOT believe that this has been released by a French band !!!" ... But YES they fucking are (French) :)
Born from the ashes of Alcohsonic (an ep + album released), out from Paris, ABRAHMA have simply released here THE masterpiece that all the french Stoner scene was waiting for, an album that has the potencial to make them following the fresh steps of Mars Red Sky in the States and even further !
Basically the music of ABRAHMA is STONER Rock; full of KILLER riffs, catchy melodies, groovy solos. This is intense, sharp and full of warm heaviness. What is quickly striking is that ABRAHMA's music recovers almost all possible facets of the STONER ROCK genre : Bluesy, Psychedelic, Southern, Fuzzy... all this in a bluffing and homogeneous manner !
Lasting about 70 faultless minutes, this "Through the Dusty Paths of our Lives" is also not at all devoided of refined atmospheres ("Loa's awakening", "headless horse", "oceans of sand"), could they be quieter accoustic moments or darker airy ones; well-served by an exceptionnal production, they also reveal a surprising maturity.
Can't forget to mention the guest appearances of Ed Mundell (Monster Magnet) on the titanic "Big Black Cloud" and Thomas Bellier from Black Heet Shujaa on "The Maze"(an epic journey of 10 minutes that is a kind of perfect synthesis of the album).
And how could I end without underlining another major distinctive force of ABRAHMA : the vocal performance of Seb... ?! he sublimates awesomely the overall and in my opinion delivers here the best vocal performance ever released on our territory for ages ! I'm rather impatient to read his lyrics which seem everything except conventional, including most specificaly the trilogy "Vodun" ("pt1 : Samedi's Awakening" - "pt2 I, Zombie" and "pt3 Final Asagwe") and then have a tchat with that guy who seems very friendly and creative (he's also one of the both guitarists)... While waiting for this cool moments, I entreat you to get this album that will be assuredly in many top 10 of the year, starting by mine ! No possible regret, if you're into STONER, this is ESSENTIAL.
- STEPH LS
I think it's a good thing whenever I get a release from Small Stone Records. While some labels are in the business of putting out cute rock rercords, Small Stone clearly has no interest in putting out anything that can be described as cute. This is a label that puts out albums that make you want to:
- put on a t-shirt with the sleeves ripped off, a pair of jeans that has seen better days, and some work boots
-pump your fist
-shout along with the lyrics.
Abrahma is a little different than other bands on Small Stone. Don't get me wrong. This is another band that goes heavy on the guitar with meaty riffs and plenty of volume. While this band delivers plenty of straightforward kick-in-the-teeth rock and roll, it also includes some twists. At times, this band sounds like early-90s Seattle rock ("Neptune of Sorrow"). At other times, it sounds similar to Clutch with some riffs that are either a little spacy or bluesy. "Honkin' Water Roof" is a good example not only of the fat guitar riffs in Clutch songs, but also of the experimental sort of sound Clutch jams in its live shows. In parts of one song ("Vodun Pt. 1 - Samedi's Awakening"), the band reminds me of White Zombie while "Headless Horse" (for one) is pretty heavily influenced by psychedelic rock. Are you sensing a trend here? I've mentioned four of the 15 songs on this album, and each one has some variation on the heavy rock that is the band's signature.
If you're already a fan of Small Stone, Through the Dusty Paths of Our Lives will not disappoint you. If you like rock that can best be described as loud and heavy, Abrahma is a band you should get to know.
- Gary Schwind
Abrahma's Through the Dusty Paths of Our Lives is the latest release from Small Stone Records, and it's a monster. Monolithic riffs, heavy fuck-you bass, and look at that artwork! The vocals recall In Rock Deep Purple and the tunes have staying power. It's new nostalgia. It's also drunk on canned beer in backseats of T-top Camaros.
- Brett Callwood
It could be posited that Parisian heavy rocking four-piece Abrahma (formerly known as Alcohsonic) take their name either from the notion of something negating the Hindu god Brahma, the creator of humankind. In this instance, they’d be undoing of humankind, presumably more aligned to Shiva, the destroyer – though that may be a gross simplification of the complexities of Hinduism, and if it offends, I apologize – or otherwise atheistic. Fair enough. The word “abrahma” also appears in the work of 19th Century British historian Godfrey Higgins, who put forth the idea of Pandeism, that all modern religions Eastern and Western had a common root. Higgins uses “abrahma” as a bridge between Brahma, in Hinduism, and the Judeo-Christian figure Abraham. Whether or not the members of Abrahma are students of obscure 19th Century religious theorizing, I don’t know – stranger things have certainly happened – but in either case, their moniker is a roundabout way to express a very specific, if abstract and ethereal, idea. One might say the same thing about their Small Stone Records debut, Through the Dusty Paths of Our Lives. At just over 70 minutes long and comprised of 15 individual tracks, the album develops from relatively straightforward heavy rock – tonally thick and incorporating some elements of psychedelia, but never at the sacrifice of structure – into a more expansive feel, so that by the time closer “Omega” comes around with its techno-style bass groove and keyboards, it’s hardly out of place at all following the 10-minute ranging exploration of “The Maze.” I don’t know if the cuts between “Omega” and opener “Alpha” (the dichotomy furthering the vague religiosity of their name) follow an overarching narrative or not, but with a slew of guest appearances from the likes of the recently-interviewed Ed Mundell of The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic, Thomas Bellier of fellow Parisians Blaak Heat Shujaa and Ehécatl, and cover artist Alexander Von Wieding, who composed and performs “Oceans of Sand…” a welcome change of pace late into the record.
Through the Dusty Paths of Our Lives is almost like two albums put together – or perhaps more appropriately, an album and an EP. It even has two separate introductions. The first 21 minutes, preceded by the ringing tones of “Alpha,” find Abrahma tangling with memorable choruses and heavy, large-sounding riffage. “Neptune of Sorrow” begins a string of four songs – the others being “Tears of the Sun” (guest vocal by Pascal Mascheroni of Marseille trio Rescue Rangers), “Dandelion Dust” and “Honkin’ Water Roof” – that stick largely to the same catchy modus. Vocalist/guitarist Sebastian Bismuth keeps a John Garcia-esque lyrical cadence to “Honkin’ Water Roof,” but it’s more Hermano than Kyuss, and his riffing, complemented by fellow six-stringer Nicolas Heller, leaves little to be desired in tone, “Tears of the Sun” culminating in decidedly modern Eurostoner progressions that feel intricately composed despite their familiarity. The momentum shows its first signs of shifting with “Dandelion Dust.” Drummer Benjamin Colin – the band is rounded out by his brother, Guillaume Colin, on bass – moves to the cowbell for the verse and continues the push on the kick for the chorus, but the mood is darker than “Neptune of Sorrow” or “Tears of the Sun,” and the guitars begin in the second half to show some of the spaciousness they’ll maximize later on, Guillaume taking the fore in holding down the groove. Expectedly given it’s countrified title, “Honkin’ Water Roof” offers some Southern inflection in its guitar figure, made insistent by start-stop bass and drums – a slide also shows up in the chorus – and aligning Abrahma sonically a bit to their labelmates Dwellers, whose Good Morning Harakiri was released earlier this year. A killer solo toward the middle precedes another round of the chorus, and the ending of the track – the longest yet at 6:49 and the longest of the rest of Through the Dusty Paths of Our Lives but for “The Maze” – tosses in amp and effects noise against the backdrop of the still maintained central progression, which is a pretty decent example of how the album as a whole works. It keeps itself aligned to the straightforward, accessible ideas it presents even as it adds more and more varied elements on top.
That said, Abrahma change their methods when it comes to track six and everything after. A subtle build on “Loa’s Awakening (Prelude)” begins a widely diverse 48-minute run that incorporates some of the best material that Through the Dusty Paths of Our Lives has to offer, but can also confuse first-time listeners because of its shifts from the initial movement of the record. To offset this potentiality, Bismuth, Heller and the brothers Colin put the best song right in what is effectively the beginning of this second movement, “Vodun Pt. 1: Samedi’s Awakening” having both the funkiest verse and the most memorable chorus of the record’s 70-minute entirety. The theme is so strong, in fact, that Abrahma reference it either musically or lyrically in both “Vodun Pt. 2: I, Zombie” and “Vodun Pt. 3: Final Asagwe,” but the trio of “Vodun” tracks is broken up by two in between each part, and two more follow the final installment, so they’re by no means all the band has on offer in the second, lengthier piece of Through the Dusty Paths of Our Lives. Still, the thread exists and its prevalence clearly is no accident. And though it’s tactics are different, more spacious and spiritually minded, particularly in a bass-rumbling midpoint break, “Vodun Pt. 1: Samedi’s Awakening” (both Samedi and Loa are references to voodoo, or vodun, mythology, though “Samedi” is also French for “Saturday”), Abrahma hold fast to the verse/chorus framework they’ve built, which helps them as they switch between the “Vodun” pieces and the other tracks. Mundell’s appearance on “Big Black Cloud” – a joy to anyone who appreciates psychedelic heavy rock soloing – helps recovery from the punch of “Vodun Pt. 1: Samedi’s Awakening”’s chorus, the rhythm guitar tone behind recalling the sound of “Neptune of Sorrow” without directly repeating it, and “Headless Horse” delves further into heavy atmospherics, soft guitar lines getting buried under a mass of tone and Guillaume’s increasingly prevalent bass. There’s any number of heavy psych comparisons one could make, but the one foremost in my mind is Arc of Ascent, and Benjamin’s echoing drums only add to the likeness, although the later guitar solo maintains a gloomy feel that’s more reminiscent of mid-period Amorphis (if we’re going to stick with ‘A’ bands) than anything specifically psych. If this is how Abrahma will carve their identity, so be it.
Organ-infused “Vodun Pt. 2: I, Zombie” continues to further the reaches of the band’s sound, a boogie-metal riff kicking in to be topped by Bismuth’s reverb-drenched vocals. If they harken back to Alcohsonic’s ‘70s-infused thrust anywhere on Through the Dusty Paths of Our Lives, it’s here, but the song’s upbeat Deep Purple-isms are contrasted by a wash of echo and noise and slow down to less tangible ambience in the second half, either sax or a keyboard filling out the melody. It might also be guitar. Hard to tell. Either way, a big rock finish feels tacked onto the end as culmination for the wanderings, which by their end do indeed seem to lose themselves as compares to the rest of the album’s firmly-directed sensibility, but if there’s a return to earth to be had, “Oceans of Sand…” provides, sounding strikingly akin to Larman Clamor in the swampy acoustics and von Wieding’s effective semi-slurred vocal. As every song since “Honkin’ Water Roof” has been a shift from the one before it – though I’ll say that “Honkin’ Water Roof” could work as a precursor to “Oceans of Sand…” as well – the slide acoustics and humming that close the track aren’t out of place, and neither is it awkward as Abrahma kick back in on the subdued, heavily atmospheric follow-up, “…Here Sleep Ghosts,” which is another highlight for Guillaume on bass as he provides much of the movement for the more languid groove. Abrahma are nearly 50 minutes into Through the Dusty Paths of Our Lives, and if you’re not on board by now, you’re probably not going to be. Their leading with the hooks – the first “Vodun” aside – was a solid means for grabbing attention, but if by the end of “…Here Sleep Ghosts” they haven’t managed to keep your interest, they’re probably not going to win it back on the last three tracks, expansive though they are. “Vodun Pt. 3: Final Asagwe” (asagwe being a voodoo dance of divine admiration) picks up with a snare hit right where “…Here Sleep Ghosts” leaves off, but turns immediately to more grounded fare, slide guitar topping Benjamin’s straightforward drum beat and Bismuth’s vocals likewise echoing von Wieding’s megaphone-style vocal for the first verse. The song languishes some after casually nodding at the chorus of “Vodun Pt. 1: Samedi’s Awakening,” but picks up a bit for its own chorus before meandering directly into the appropriately labyrinthine “The Maze.”
And if you’re going to get lost anywhere in the stretch of Through the Dusty Paths of Our Lives, it’s in “The Maze,” which devolves from a slow, airy progression into psychedelic ambience, random-seeming guitar notes, keys and a low-mixed vocal from Bellier that’ll be immediately recognizable to anyone who heard the Ehécatl self-titled last year, even as it – like everything else in that part of the track – seems to be bubbling and warped. This is where Abrahma really let go, but just at the seven-minute mark, when it seems like they’ve lost it and are going to spend the remainder of the song indulgently noising out, they stop and pull it back in. Guillaume’s fuzz bass sets the stage for the return of Bismuth and Heller’s guitars, and, with Benjamin renewing the slower progression of the opening, the band effectively gives the song its payoff. The guitar lead is mixed a little low, so the triumph isn’t quite as loudly stated as it might otherwise be, but it’s there on “The Maze”’s long fadeout to single guitar, lightly strummed. It would be a fitting way to cap the album – they could even have split the tracks up, led one into the next and called that guitar part “Omega” – but the actual “Omega” rounds it out nicely as well, presenting one last shift with Guillaume recalling “Headless Horse” in his tone while the aforementioned electronic-style grooving marches “Omega” and the rest of Through the Dusty Paths of Our Lives to its finish, hitting a surprisingly brash apex and cutting in and out of the drum room-mics and giving a last-minute bit of chaos in the guitar to what it for the most part a highly structured album. It’s fitting somehow that Abrahma would contradict themselves at the end of the record while still also confirming the creative breadth of their debut’s second part. Aside from showing that they still have avenues to explore, it also seems to indicate an awareness on the part of the band that there’s more to creating than construction and that an essential part of developing as a unit is indulging the spontaneous as well as the blueprint. In any case, there are no shortage of indulgences on Through the Dusty Paths of Our Lives, and though the record certainly takes its time in making its point musically as well as in its circuitous language (something I can get down with, when it comes to it), the point is well made by the time they’re done. With a release so substantial, I have a hard time saying it shows potential for future ground the band might cover because I feel like it might take away from the impression this album has on its own, but among the many things Abrahma have room to do on their first full-length, they have room to do that as well.
- H.P. Taskmaster
Abrahma are four piece psychedelic stoner/desert rock band from Paris, France. They originally formed in 2005 under the name of Alcohsonic and they released one album, one EP, and a single under this name. Through the Dusty Paths of Our Lives is their debut full length for Small Stone Records and the first under their new moniker.
Their press release describes this record as …a once in a lifetime debut and also for fans of Kyuss, Dozer, Greenleaf and Monster Magnet to name but a few. Indeed former Monster Magnet and current 9 Chambers lead guitarist, Ed Mundell guests on the track Big Black Cloud.
The four piece line up consists of
Sebastien Bismuth (vocals, guitar),
Nicolas Heller (guitar),
Guillaume Colin (Bass)
Benjamin Colin (drums)
So Small Stone records have come up trumps again, seemingly plucking a band from obscurity, Abrahma have repaid them in spades, delivering a startlingly brilliant record. This record has it all and is as close to perfection as you can get.
Through The Dusty Paths Of Our Lives isn’t so much an album but a monolithic journey of stoner rock ecstasy, inducing mind bending psychedelic delirium, due to the presence ultra heavy riffs, proto-metal influences, acid tinged rock and a hint of alternative grunge. Yet despite the inspiration of the stoner rock progeny being present on the album, it remains fresh and vibrant; it is a thunderous tour de force.
Potent, majestic and choc full of hooks, this Parisian quartet have produced a master class of hypnotic, trippy groove based jams, which dazzles with cosmic spaced out hallucinogenic songs, packed to the rafters with ambience, soul and transcending everything you might have heard before. The first three tracks (“Neptune of Sorrow,” “Tears of the Sun,” “Dandelion Dust”) are just breath taking. Encapsulating dense bass grooves, with multifarious reverberation and texture, the grungy vocals add charisma and personality to the tracks, with layers of epic riffs and unyielding rhythmic drums.
This album continues with awe-inspiring vigour throughout the course of its 15 songs, Headless Horse with its Jeff Buckley tinged psychedelic arpeggio and tripped out vocals, circle and envelop the far reaches of your psyche. The titanic and labyrinthine track, The Maze to the Vodun trilogy, the entire record is a blistering exhibition of stoner rock brilliance. Forget Alcohsonic and all hail the new flesh, because Abrahma’s debut is a psychedelic, grunge infused masterpiece. Well done guys.
- The Doomentor
In 2005, Sebastien Bismuth (vocals, guitar), Nicolas Heller (guitar), Guillaume Colin (Bass), and Benjamin Colin (drums) started their rock n’ roll life as Alcohsonic, a bluesy, torn-jean unit, and as such they released one album, one EP, and a single, but their hard rockin’, chicks-dig-it good times didn’t last. Given their name it might be fun to assume they checked themselves into musical rehab, and that particular premise would then make Abrahma their clean, spiritual return to the fold. Mighty, mystical, and full of the power of purpose, this version of the Parisian quartet prefers the desolate desert to the badly-lit barroom, the smoky swamp to the neon avenue, and it’s clear from the deep n’ groovy throw down that is Through the Dusty Paths of Our Lives that this was a resurrection borne of thunder and doom. In fact, after busting out with a trio of mountain-sized statement songs (“Neptune of Sorrow,” “Tears of the Sun,” “Dandelion Dust”) this album proceeds to run the stoner rock gamut throughout the course of its 15 songs, from heavy psyche (“Headless Horse,” “The Maze”) to stomp n’ slide (“Honkin’ Water Roof,” every song in the “Vodun” trilogy) to spacey colossus (“Big Black Cloud,” “…Here Sleep Ghosts” [the former featuring guitar solos courtesy of Ed Mundell]), all of it serving as one hell of a start to a brand new day.
- Jeff Warren