Abbath – Abbath

27 02 2016

Note: This review was originally written for Exclaim! It was edited down and rearranged there, so I thought I would share my original article here instead. The alternative version can be found here: http://exclaim.ca/music/article/abbath-abbath

With the legal battle over rights to Immortal’s band namabbathabbathe officially in the past, fans – depending of course on which side of the fence they’re on – finally have something to rejoice about. Still donning his signature corpse paint, Abbath has returned from a six year musical drought with an impressive self-titled debut. Expanding on Immortal’s black metal blueprint, his solo material ups the ante with elements of thrash, death metal and classic rock.

The opening track “To War!” sets the tone with a thundering gallop, making it abundantly clear that Abbath means business. Thematically, it almost feels like a call to arms – a battle cry that echoes through the entire album. There are piles of stand-out moments throughout, including a horn section that punctuates brightly through the heavier elements in “Ashes of the Damned” and a foreboding acoustic interjection in the otherwise riff-heavy “Winterbane”. Bassist King (Gorgoroth, Ov Hell) adds some evil personality into the tracks, contributing some truly meaty bass runs while drummer Creature (aka Kevin Foley) thrashes and blasts with technical precision. Even the front man’s recognizable croak sounds more menacing than it does amusing, and while you might expect a certain level of cheesiness, you won’t find much here.

The journey may have been treacherous, but this time Abbath has emerged unscathed. He’s proven that he doesn’t need the Immortal name to expand his black metal legacy – all he needs is a little help from his friends.

Available now on Season of Mist.

Stream the album here: https://abbath.bandcamp.com/

 

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Black Anvil – Triumvirate

1 12 2010

Note: This album review was originally written for and posted on Hellbound.ca. You can view the original link here: http://met.al/dtm

How important are geographical surroundings to developing a genre’s sound? When it comes to black metal, I would argue that they are pretty important. Just listen to any of the Norwegian black metal bands that helped pioneer the genre in the early 90’s and try to tell me the opposite. You can almost feel the long, frigid Scandinavian winters in their music; the isolation, the closeness to nature. Combine this with a county’s historical struggles against Christianity and a penchant for rebellion and you’ve pretty much defined the genre. Of course, this is a new decade and the dark underbelly of black metal has spread its influence throughout the world, often to those who merely imitate with insincere, copy-cat theatrics.

I might be forgiven then for being initially sceptical of Black Anvil, a band who calls the bright lights and urban sprawl of New York City home. Fortunately for them, their sophomore album Triumvirate makes a case for itself, offering up a truly authentic yet wholly different approach to black metal. The basic principles are there – tremolo picking, sweeping guitars, puked out vocals – but the way it is presented is what makes it different. The typically low-fi, recorded-inside-a-tin-can production value is replaced by a layer of grit and smog, a coldness that comes from polished concrete rather than ice and snow. The short and atmospheric transition track “Cripple” gives rise to this idea, incorporating what sounds like a police siren faintly in the background.

The album does have a tenancy to blur together at times and while there is nothing overly groundbreaking about the song writing on Triumvirate, there are enough shining moments to garner some repeat listens. The final handful of tracks are especially noteworthy with periods of slow groove (“Dead and Left”) giving way to quick bursts of sonic pummelling (“With Transparent Blood”) and a little bit of everything in between (“Scalping”).

In the end, Black Anvil has given us a decent collection of songs with a genuine spin that can only reflect positively on the new wave of black metal in North America. If you’re a fan of the genre already and are looking for something new and exciting, you could do a lot worse than Triumvirate.

Rating: 7.5/10








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