Satan-hailing, long-standing (formed back in 1994!) Aussies Abominator are back after nine years of hiatus with yet another record of their signature blackened death (or deathened black?) metal. If you’ve listened to any of the band’s previous releases, it won’t come as much of a surprise that their fifth full-length Evil Proclaimed shows no shifts in pace, attitude, or sound. This kind of resilience towards change and trends surely deserves the same kind of respect we usually reserve for the likes of AC/DC.
But that’s also a big problem, isn’t it? Having heard one of their records, you’ve basically heard them all. What’s worse, there’s not much diversity among the tunes on the album either. They come at the listener with full force right from the beginning with “Black Mass Warfare,” a blazing, diabolically fast song with incessant blast beats and roaring guitars. There are even traces of speed/thrash reminiscent of Sodom. At this point, your enthusiasm shoots up through the roof! You want MORE of this occult pummeling stuff! So the first track ends, the next one starts… and yet you’ve got a feeling that you’re still listening to the same thing. Did you press “repeat” by accident? Nope. Evil Proclaimed is filled with tracks that sound the same. While this might be an advantage for some that find the idea of more-of-the-same comforting, for the rest of us it’s generally a bummer. There’s an odd groove here and there, there’s a meaty solo arbitrarily inserted in some of the songs, and there are even some shorter breaks, but none of these things make an impact on the overall impression of the album.
Luckily, it’s a relatively short record clocking at under 40 minutes distributed among eight terse cuts. Short enough so that it never becomes totally boring and short enough to prevent your ears from getting completely brutalized. Repeated listens are, unfortunately, tedious. Additionally, the feeling of listening to one continuous, looong song makes the task of picking out standouts tough. There are some cool riffs and grooves on “The Brimstone Nucleus” that quickly get buried under the same old layers of blast beats and buzzing guitars, while “Ashes of a Demonic Legacy,” “The Devil’s Pandemonium,” and “Re-Birth of the Archnemesis” prove that changes in pace, some added groove, and a hint of variety can do wonders for this type of music. On the other hand, the title track shows how not to do things. Of its four minutes, three and a half are spent repeating the same exhausting riff which even a crunchy break and a neat solo cannot salvage.
It’s not just the songwriting that’s uninspired. If I were to draw an abstraction representing this album, it would be a blob of the deepest, blackest black with a pinch of red in the middle. The red would symbolize Lucifer, of course, in line with the lyrics that deal with the usual cookie-cutter black metal themes. Even though the band manages to sound relatively “evil,” the general image that they emit is that of a group that takes itself a bit too seriously. Vocalist and drummer Chris Volcano (ex Deströyer 666) and guitarist Andrew Undertaker are seasoned musicians, so their performances are OK and never mired by the slightly muffled, but pleasantly fuzzy and generally solid production that befits this type of metal.
I can’t think of any music that would be more appropriate to use when you need to enact revenge upon your annoying neighbours or disturb and freak out your enemies. This dark, bass-emphasized, non-stop brutal assault is what your parents warned you about. In all seriousness, knowing the band’s background and the history of the genre, this album couldn’t have been anything else. Generally speaking, Abominator will appeal to people looking for some good, straight, no frills, frozen-in-time black/death metal in the vein of Angelcorpse. That these guys deliver with ease.