10 July 2016

Abbath - Abbath

This has been on my radar to review for a while, as it has been there for more than four months it is time to get it done.  'Abbath' is the name and title of this album from the former Immortal front man, it was released in February 2016, it is the only album to feature the drummer Creature who left the band after it was recorded and it also features former Gorgoth bass player King ov Hell.  Immortal are a band that I like, but it they were always a band I needed to be in the mood for and could only play them at certain times or I would find myself getting bored.  It is just one of those thing, but when the mood struck me - nothing was finer.  When they split the first time, it was sad to hear; the second time they split and the way they are still going is similar to the situation that Queensrÿche have ended up, a little bitter on all sides and no-one coming out covered in glory.  But that has not lessened my interest in what Abbath was going to do, in fact I have been sitting on this one for a while and now the mood has struck for some harsh Black metal.  This album is eight tracks long, with two bonus track and I will look at all the tracks on offer here.  Will this be a leap forward, a step back or just plain glorious?

Starting the album is "To War" and from the very beginning it is all out attack.  A brief sound of marching heralds the start of the black metal assault on your audio senses and there is no slowing down from beginning to end on this song.  After a manic and fast opening, it goes into a traditional black metal style which goes for the jugular and it does not stop.  This one song will make people either reach for the stop button or raise they arms in victory, it is a fierce opening and one which sets out from the start what this album is all about.  "Winter Bane" follows on in a similar suit, it is straight in for the attack from the first moment and it does not stop, there is a little lull for drama at one point, a brief acoustic guitar towards the end and then it is over with another burst of furious black metal.  It is following the black metal hand book for me at this point, it is performed incredibly well and so far, so heavy, so loud.  "Ashes of the Damned" is next and once more it is black metal done in a way which is almost a precise art and it is one of the better track on the album as it is short, sharp and intense.  From beginning to end it is relentless in its pursuit of metal overload and it sound great.  It is not the most original track I have heard, but in this genre that is sometimes a blessing in disguise.  "Ocean of Wounds" goes for a slower grinding song, not breaking any real boundaries or starting anything new.  It is another good song on here, very loud and aggressive; yet it is starting to fall into a familiar pattern for me and it has taken a slight step back on this track which was required/expected - still intense, just a little slower.  "Count the Dead" is the fifth track on the album and the speed has returned to the album, the riffs are falling faster that Hans Gruber off the side of a building.  It has a great solo in the song, a great performance on the drums and it is another good song, so why am I not feeling entertained as much as I think I should be?

"Fenrir Hunts" is another good song that is relentless in its pursuit of speed, metal, annihilation and all-out war. Rivers of blood are mentioned, there is no let up on the audio assault and it just goes through you like a juggernaut would.  It is well played and something that will have Abbath fans raising their horns to the sky.  The penultimate song of the album is called "Root of the Mountain" which slows everything does, in a comparative sense as it is not going at a hundred miles an hour.  It has a classic vibe to the music and in places it is almost Black Sabbath in nature, but this is something that you can level at most metal to be honest.  On this song, it has a doom edge to the music that makes it interesting and also make it stand out from the other songs on the album to the point where it is the best song just for being slightly different to the rest.  "Eternal" is the last song on the main section of the album, it is also a manic track that sounds like the engine is close to exploding under the strain of the music.  It is attack, assault, attack, thunderous drums, howling vocals and attack.  It is a very good song, finely crafted and played with incredible conviction; however, it also sounds incredible familiar and that is its curse as well as its beauty.  The first of two bonus songs is called "Riding on the Wind" which is a cover of the Judas Priest classic, it sounds as if it would have been a lot of fun to perform and the band sound really tight on this song, however the death growl vocals sort of ruin it for me.  The second bonus track is a cover of a track by Abbath's former band Immortal, "Nebular Ravens Winter" and whilst this will be something that will be played on live shows (as it should be, Abbath was co-creator of the song and can play it), why added it here?  Whilst it is admirable to be proud of your past, why bring it back into focus on your debut solo release (even as a bonus track)?  It does not make much sense to me and seems unnecessary, but it is well played as you would expect.

This is a good, solid first shot of the barrel from Abbath, it shows that he has an awful lot of fury and energy left in him and that he is still a force to be reckoned with.  However, this album is a great example of how a record can be well played, sound great and be just that little bit too one dimensional for its own good.  It is the black metal curse/gift - you know exactly what you are going to get and you know pretty much how it will sound, which sometimes makes it a little bit similar to other acts who are out there.  With it having the Abbath name, it is obviously going to have a lot of interest - hell, it is the reason I wanted to review it as well, to see what the man was doing and how it sounded.  The other thing is actually the bonus tracks, they were not really needed as the eight tracks which comprise the album are a good and solid album; those tracks are just unnecessary and end the record with extra weight it did not need.  I was hoping that on this album, Abbath would have stretched his wings a bit, but maybe it was just a necessary to start a little bit safe in some ways.  A good album, but not the best of albums.

6.5 out of ten - Now I see where you were going, but it is not quite there.

Top track - Root of the Mountain

You can purchase Abbath on Amazon here

You can visit the Abbath website here (which also has links for purchasing the album as well)

You can follow the activities of Abbath on Facebook here

You can stream Abbath on Spotify here

You can stream Abbath on Deezer here

You can stream Abbath on Tidal here

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