WORDS: Eddie Sims
Go back a couple of years and you would’ve seen everyone simultaneously panic over what the future of IMMORTAL would be. Having made their claim as the biggest and best modern black metal band, when the implosion of the band happened the world was left wondering what was going to happen to that fiercely creative, badger face painted individual that fronted them. Well, ABBATH simply decided to continue on, and without being linked to the immortal name any more he’s been given the reign to channel a lot of aggression into this, his debut and self titled release.
It’s immediately clear just how much more aggressive ABBATH is when compared to his previous works. With later IMMORTAL the aggression was placed on the back burner and instead saw massive audio vistas being created with discords and frosty vocals. Well the frosty vocals are still present but behind them are some truly thrashing riffs and utterly relentless blast beats that comes thanks to the now ex-drummer Creature. To War! opens the album with a swaying riff that swings as hard as the axe Abbath carries around with him. It sets the tone of the album superbly, making it blatantly clear that this is a different entity to ABBATH’s previous works, something that was probably at the forefront of the writing process. When the blast beats kick in, the album really begins to snarl.
The wonderful thing about ABBATH as a creative is that he has been able to carve and craft legitimately good songs out of a genre that so often forgoes all form of structure and makes it claim being boldly out in the uncontrollable chaos of creativity. With songs like Wintersbane and Fenrir Hunts there’s something poetically stable in amongst the cross fire of break neck drums and raging riffs, almost like an anchor to the songs that comes in the form of song structure. Of course these songs never quite reach the mountainous peaks of Immortal songs of old. None of these songs are quite as massively epic as their estranged relatives are, but then again you could argue whether they were supposed to be.
The album still remains fiercely creative, with the questionable use of brass horns in Ashes of the Damned proving that Abbath is as fearless as he ever was, even if they do detract from the aggression the previous songs reached and almost contradict what the rest of the album is trying to achieve. Root of the Mountain is a lumbering beast of a song that sounds like a frosty Black Sabbath tribute and helps round off the tail end of the album well, with it’s more leisurely tempo and rocking riffs.
ABBATH has done well with this debut. It’s a pretty safe bet to assume it was never going to be a bad album, but without the banner of Immortal hanging above him, there were some doubts as to whether he could stand on his own frost-bitten feet. Coming out the gates swinging with a brutally aggressive debut that firmly asserts his dominance over the black metal genre. ABBATH certainly falters from time to time, with the relentless barrage sometimes becoming to hard to handle and finding itself wanting for the diversity of the sounds of old, It ultimately remains as solid, ballsy, riff lead black metal record that is fit for anyone who wants to stand in the snow and head bang till their head falls of their shoulders.
Abbath is out now via Season of Mist