Abbath – Dread Reaver Review

I’m not gonna lie; I’ve been dreading the day I’d have to review Abbath. In my mind, Abbath (the man) can do no wrong. Sure, not everything Abbath has done is inevitably amazing, but I haven’t disliked any of his stuff. But, after the strong combination of Immortal and I that is Abbath, Outstrider did very little for me. It had some bangers, but I can’t sit through the whole album. I guess I got spoiled by the Abbath dream team of Abbath, King, and Creator. Everyone brought their unique take to the album, and the mix let them highlight their talents. I can’t say Outstrider would have been better had Mia Wallace and Ukri Suvilehto developed their unique skills with Abbath’s songwriting. Still, I can’t deny my disappointment to hear their contributions pushed to the back. Compared to Abbath, Outstrider was far safer and more reserved than its predecessor. So, why am I afraid of Dread Reaver? Because I fear it’ll suffer the same fate.

As you can see from the atrocious cover art, Abbath continues to prove this is his band. And he’s starting to show that with the same absurd vigor that garners album covers from Yngwie Malmsteen. And when I saw that Abbath chose to mix Dread Reaver himself, my fear factor increased double-fold. And on first listen, I knew Dread Reaver was in trouble. Dread Reaver is all vocals and drums—pushed so far to the front that it’s overwhelming. If anyone was uncertain if Abbath was Abbath’s band, the only promo pics I received were all of Abbath.

Sadly, the opener, “Acid Haze,” confirmed my fears. The song comes at you like a rabid wolverine. Then, dips for a second before unleashing a crushing thrash riff. Toss in a chorus that sticks to you like a pesky prickly pear, and you have another killer start to an Abbath album. But everything else about the song is absolutely smothering. Wallace, arguably one of the best up-and-coming bassists out there, is a wall of sound. Not a single note is decipherable as her bass collides with your eardrums like a locomotive hitting a cow. And, poor Suvilehto’s drums pummel what little of Wallace you can hear to dust. And all that swirling guitar soloing on the back-end of the song? They’re also a victim of the over-blown chaos. Which, sadly, makes it practically useless. But, it’s not all about the recording. Like “Acid Haze,” “Dream Cull” leaves you wishing for more. After teasing the listener with a sinister acoustic intro that begs for a massive eruption, it instead gallops along with mid-paced destruction. The bass and drums lead the charge, with the guitars taking the back seat. Or, at least, that’s what I’m assuming because I can’t hear the fucking bass to save my life.

On the positive side, “Myrmidon” is an old-school rocker turned thrash attack with interesting vocal diversity. Like “Scarred Core,” Abbath delivers a classic, thrash-inspired rant in the vein of Sodom. The vocals are quite exaggerated—even from Abbath—but the song is punchy and neat. “Septentrion” counters with headbangable riffage and death growls akin to those of Testament‘s Chuck Billy. But, like “Dream Cull,” the song brims with potential but goes nowhere. Vocally, the closing title track encompasses it all. Even down to eerie spoken word moments in the background. Unfortunately, my mind immediately goes to Shagrath’s contributions to Kamelot‘s “March of Mephisto.” It works for Kamelot but doesn’t work here.

To make matters worse, Abbath tossed in a cover of the already over-covered “Trapped Under Ice” by Metallica. Had it been a bonus track, no problem. But, this wholly unoriginal interpretation is one of the album’s roster. If you’ve made it this far, you can tell that I’m utterly disappointed with Dread Reaver. From the album cover to the lackluster songs and dreadful mix, I immediately went back to I‘s Between Two Worlds to wash this swill out of my mouth. Never have I been this disappointed with a release from the King of the Crabwalk. I hope the next album lets the side talent of the band show the world what they can do with Abbath’s songwriting. For now, we’re left with an album so overly distorted you can’t hear the solos and the rhythm section crushed into oblivion.


Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kb/s mp3
Label: Season of Mist
Websites: abbath.bandcamp.com | abbath.net | facebook.com/abbathband
Releases Worldwide: March 25th, 2022

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