Absu // Abzu
Rating: 4.5/5.0 —Awesome (but not Tara)
Label: Candlelight Records
Release Dates: EU: 2011.10.10 | US: 10.11.2011
Recently here on Angry Metal Guy, Steel Druhm took black metal as a genre to task for, frankly, sucking. The whole shit has long been, in my opinion, a conservative and copycat genre which has generated little new or of note since at least the early 2000s, with its glory years being firmly rooted in the mid-to-late 90s. Of course, one shouldn’t draw such broad generalizations, because then you’ll end up posting a review that disproves the whole thesis of said generalization (this is not to say that he’s wrong, by the way, he was oh-so-right. But Absu defies gravity.). Case in point? The heavily thrash-influenced Absu just put out another new record, and not only do they defy the black metal genre as a whole, they’re actively working to redefine it in a way that is much more palatable to my Angry Metal Taste Buds.
Abzu, the unfortunately named follow up to 2009s self-titled opus Absu, feels like a different record than its predecessor. While the band may be maintaining their general form and function that they’ve had since it’s other opus Tara, they bring a level of extremity to their game that is remarkably refreshing. While Absu felt long and never quite drew me in, Abzu is a ball-busting thrashfest that only pulls up for moments to wow the listener with some rad acoustic work (“Circles of the Oath). The riffs on here are addictive and the feel is out of this world and over-the-top.
Actually, if I were to draw correlations to other records, this one kind of reminds of me of the breakneck speed of Reign in Blood and Marduk’s Panzer Division Marduk, but with a lot more variation and, dare I say it… pizazz. The use of keyboards here is subtle, laying out simple beds for the riffs and the tortured vocals to rest on. They’re most noticeable in the march sections of the epic 15 minute “Song for Ea,” and the down moments accentuate the rawness of the riffs and feeling.
To be honest, I don’t have really much more to say except that this record is awesome. It’s exactly what you want from Absu. It’s got all the thrashy post-Tara riffing and song construction that you want, with all the extremity and esoteric lyrics you could possibly want. How these guys continue to just nail it out of the park time and time again is actually pretty impressive to me. While some might complain about the length, I actually think that a 36 minute record is preferable to a 56 minute one and Abzu makes this point perfectly. A brutal dose of thrashy riffing that makes you want to headbang and then leaves quickly enough that you want more is always preferable to a record that you can’t finish.
So mark up another win for black metal’s brightest spot right now. Absu’s Abzu is definitely in the running for record of the year and I’m going to be enjoying the hell out of this one for a long time.