Raise your hand if you had any doubt that the new album from Dallas mythological occult metallers Absu would be anything less than an astounding continuation of the sound that’s made the band nothing short of legendary in the Texas metal underground. I should be looking at a room full of lowered hands right now, because the newest effort by Absu, entitled “Abzu”, is a superb work of extreme metal that defies typical genre conventions and should be purchased by any fan of metal – period. The album consists of six tracks in thirty-six minutes, and achieves its goal of pursuing creative forays into the extremity of black metal and thrash, but also extends into the musical realm of progressive influences, and it is safe to say that there is no other album like “Abzu” being released this year.
Absu have always started their albums on a memorable note, and “Earth Ripper” is no exception, choosing to initiate the album on a furious note similar to 2009’s self-titled album with “Between the Absu of Eridu & Erich” (as opposed to starting the album with a piece like “Tara” or “An Involution of Thorns”). The song goes straight for the throat in the same way that made songs like “Pillars of Mercy” (from 2001’s “Tara”) so memorable. Anyone who was wondering about the fate of Proscriptor’s famous falsetto need not worry, as the piercing shriek has returned, and on the first track of the album, nonetheless! The accompanying guitar part is old-school to the bone, with a savage snare pattern behind it that is creative in execution. The song only continues the intensity with a midsection that brings Melechesh to mind before yielding to more straightforward thrashing. Needless to say, it is a damn fine way to start off “Abzu”, and a surefire method to silence any naysayers right from the start.
The production is absolutely killer, with every instrument ringing through loud and clear, with clearly audible bass and clarity on the percussion – which, naturally, is a highlight of the album. Drummer/vocalist Sir Proscriptor McGovern has always been a unique and enigmatic figure in the American underground metal scene, and with him at the helm, one should expect a glorious result. His rhythmic patterns have maintained their level of consistent quality with time, eternally providing an array of varying beats and fills as influenced by progressive rock as they are the thrashiness of Sodom and Slayer, and his accompaniment to bassist Ezezu (who also provides vocals) and guitar player Vis Crom is a testament to the chemistry that the three musicians possess. The bass has its fair share of interesting sections, and the guitar riffs deliver a variety of captivating chords and ravenous riffs, and it’s safe to say that there isn’t a single dull moment on this album. The guitar leads on “Abzu” were provided by none other than Aura Noir’s Blasphemer, whose contributions serve their respective songs quite well. Lyrically, “Abzu” draws on the same mythological influences as the previous album, “Absu”. As with any Absu album, reading the lyrics and delving into the album’s subject matter is almost as captivating as listening to the album itself, and anyone who dismisses metal as Neanderthal-esque tripe devoid of intellect would be wise to educate themselves by the way of the lyrical magic(k) of Absu.
While the album contains only six songs, each one is memorable in its own right, such as “Abraxas Connexus”, whose introductory riff is reminiscent of a more visceral version of Mayhem’s “Pagan Fears” which quickly leads into an excellent guitar parts that perfectly compliment the shrieks and barks of Proscriptor and Ezezu while a whirlwind of drumming not unlike “Never Blow Out The Eastern Candle” takes the listener by storm. Other ripping hymns include “Skrying in the Spirit Vision” and “Circles of the Oath”, which both contain some of the album’s fastest riffing. The guitar playing style on this album is all over the place, ranging from blinding tremolo patterns to psychedelic tones that fascinate the audience, to straightforward displays of black/thrash that are enough to initiate spontaneous headbanging in even the most stubborn metal fan.
The album concludes with the monstrous “A Song For Ea”, which fits in with previous Absu epics such as “Stone of Destiny” and “…Of Celtic Fire, We Are Born”, but at fourteen-plus minutes, the song fuses elements of black metal, thrash, and proggy trippiness into a gargantuan beast of an ode to the titular Ea that magnificently concludes the album on a majestic note. The song covers a variety of tempos and song styles throughout its six movements, utilizing everything from intriguing chord patterns that are occasionally dissonant to spaced-out atmospheric prog jams that transform “A Song For Ea” into a musical journey that takes the listener into parts unknown. By the time the piece ends, you’ll likely want to listen to the entire album again, which is easy to do since the album clocks in at thirty-six minutes and is completely devoid of filler.
Absu’s “Abzu” is an excellent album that is completely worthy of any praise heaped onto it. It is a creative, unique album that solidifies Absu’s legacy as one of the best metal bands to ever emerge from the Lone Star State, and purchasing it should be a no-brainer for anyone who considers themselves a fan of extreme metal. As a matter of fact, purchasing all Absu albums would be highly recommended if you haven’t already (this writer recommends “Tara” to start with, but any Absu album is a great start!).
For more info: Pick up Absu’s “Abzu” at San Antonio record stores such as Hogwild Records. Absu comes to San Antonio on October 22nd at Bond’s Rock Bar.