Listening through The Abyss Stares Back is like reading a choose-your-own-adventure book. Each track keeps you guessing about the nature of the next, shifting unexpectedly from the clang of scrap metal on sparse industrial tracks to folk-punk tunes reeking of sweat and gasoline. Some hint of a general theme or storyline ties the tracks together, but aside from that, the genre selection seems entirely up to chance.
Similar to the various endings of those multiple-choice stories, though, only a few tracks here are satisfying, while the rest of the album bogs down in lack of direction, coherence and production quality. The surprisingly catchy, Zappa-esque "Confusion Is a Knife That Can Stab You and Your Friends in Addition to the Monsters It Is Applied To" is the only standout track, winning extra points for its fun title.
Brian Thomas, the local one-man-band that is Kick Thine Ass Joseph and the Bleeding Thumb Brigade (KTAJATBTB), wrote and recorded the entire album in one month as part of a self-imposed, 28-day recording challenge. The album sounds like a soundtrack for the early-90s era video game its concept is inspired by, shoddy sound quality included. It's intriguing and a little amusing, but the novelty doesn't take long to wear off.