Sunday, March 27, 2016

CD Review: ABBATH self-titled

Season Of Mist
"To War” commences "Abbath" with a brief sample of marching boots and crunching gravel leading into an instrumental interval filled with blasting drum line and screaming riffs. A stirring cadence provides the background for a full vocal onslaught characterized by Abbath's distinctive guttural tones. Enhanced by break-neck speed drumming and distorted riffs broken by timely intervals ensure a brutal ear-catching and taught assault. Switching briefly into a slower, more dramatic feel interjected with dramatic and ambient riffs before the final vocal onslaught highlights the forceful yet understated ending. "To War" provides a commanding and intense start to "Abbath".
"Winterbane" begins initially with more forceful and chaotic guitar work combined with consistently technically strong drum lines. The guitar work is the focus of this track combined with Abbath's distinctive guttural black metal vocals. Switching tempo and cadence periodically throughout "Winterbane" ensures a diversity and welcome intervals provide an opportunity to focus on all elements musically to appreciate them. A consistently chaotic, dramatic and uncompromising feel to this track ensures appreciation of its technical aspects. A dramatic, lower tempo instrumental interval intermingled with understated vocals adds to the diversity. Ending as suddenly and as forcefully as this track commenced- a black metal onslaught leaving you in anticipation for the next track.
"Ashes of the Damned" begins with a pared down distorted guitar line slamming its way into an openly, aggressive instrumental background. Shifting spasmodically into dramatic and epic intervals, punctuated by mind-blowing speed and technical drumming makes this track immediately captivating. Adding to the chaotic vibe of the track is the heavy use of distorted guitars creating an adrenalin fueled track rich with a technical black metal vibe. An impressive track outstanding in its mastery of technical speed elements.
"Ocean of Wounds" commences with an ear-catching drum beat and a slightly less aggressive onset to the distortion in the guitars. While still melodic and shifting cadence to rapidly change tempo- despite the melodic factor none of the heaviness is lost with the primary emphasis on the vocals. Regular intervals with more understated vocals create a more rolling cadence to this track- a welcome and diverse contrast to "Ashes of the Damned". Ending with a sample of rain lends an ambience to "Ocean of Wounds" unseen so far in "Abbath" and displays clear musical diversity.
"Count the Dead" continues on from the ambient storm sample to be announced with "Count your dead"- giving the track its namesake. The band throw themselves into the track with distorted ambient riffs rich with melody contrasted with hammering drums and frantic guttural vocals. An interval once again displays the creativity and technical tightness of the drum work and enhances the guitar work to provide an onslaught customary of Abbath. Mid track adding the vocals only serves to add a new level of brutality while guitar solos that are both mournful and melodic break into lower tempo while still remaining heavy. An excellent contrast leading on from "Ocean of Wounds" and a technically solid and sound track.
"Fenrir Hunts" commences with the guttural screaming vocals typical of Abbath combined with a very strong distorted and technical sound that Abbath do so well. Understated riffs add to the vocals and drum work in an extremely polished yet brutal sound that is broken purely by a minimalist guitar solo. The final section changes tempo into a heavier and more distorted sound while losing none of its technically sound qualities- a solid and interesting track.
"Root of the Mountain" has developed a slower, more melodic tempo while remaining true to Abbath's style. Heavy distortion and pared back drum lines present a slightly raw feel. Melodic background music artfully combined with guttural harsh vocals prepare the listener for the instrumental mid-section. Seamlessly shifting back into a more dramatic edda-style feel once again displays the diversity to be expected from this release. Ending the song is a sample of storm and wind that completes the ambient feel.
"Endless" shifts from "Root of the Mountain" and provides an unexpected change back into the customary aural onslaught that Abbath characteristically employs. Slamming through the track at breakneck speed- the vocals and guitars adding to the relentless and frantic feel. "Endless" is definitely a standout track in terms of technical brutality, speed and tightness- notwithstanding the cohesiveness displayed. An excellent concluding track to "Abbath".
Bonus tracks include a cover of "Riding on the Wind"- an interesting Judas Priest cover which is really enjoyable and Immortal's "Nebular Raven's Winter"- a welcome addition and excellent bonus track to conclude with as a whole.
"Abbath" is a diverse reflective and brutal release displaying the technical aspects while being unafraid to employ new techniques and expand on new niches. I particularly enjoyed the drum lines in this- but the overall cohesiveness and coherence displayed in every track lends itself to a high level of dedication. Interesting, brutal and technical- I look forward to hearing more. -Sarah McKellar

Track list:
1. To War!
2. Winterbane
3. Ashes of the Damned
4. Ocean of Wounds
5. Count the Dead
6. Fenrir Hunts
7. Root of the Mountain
8. Endless
9. Riding on the Wind (Judas Priest cover)
10. Nebular Ravens Winter (Immortal cover)

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