Abbath has arisen... or returned, depending on how you look at it.
Abbath, the new band from Abbath Doom Occulta (formerly of Immortal), is an interesting beast. If you're not a huge fan of Black Metal, the band's debut album will do little to reel you in, but it is not without its surprises. While it begins with some very typical fare, there are enough hooks and grooves throughout to get even the most skeptical listeners moving their heads. Fans of Immortal may even come to feel that this album is the next logical progression from their latest release, 2009's All Shall Fall.
The first song, To War, opens the album with the kind of blistering ferocity you may expect. Winter Bane continues down this rather standard path, while opening itself up just a little to some more melodic progressions here and there. We're treated with our first surprise with Ashes of the Damned, which completely changes pace at the drop of a hat about four times before it's finished. Ocean of Wounds does away with the relentless assaults and instead opts for a calmly swaying melody that both soothes the soul while amping you up at the same time.
Count the Dead is the only extremely disappointing track on the album, lacking both imagination and diversity. Fenrir Hunts has some great bass blasts to get things started again, while Root of the Mountain is a softer, slower affair that serves to measure things out a bit more (for diversity's sake, which is actually a good thing here). Ending things off, Eternal is very heavy on atmosphere, featuring the most uplifting and inspired choruses in recent memory from a band in this genre.
Nebular Ravens Winter (bonus track)
Despite its strengths, there are some downfalls presented here as well. The production quality is not at all what it could or even should be. It hearkens back to the mid-nineties tin can sound that was never an endearing trait of the time (especially for Black Metal). The volume levels are rather low in comparison to most other albums being produced today as well. And while the band tries for a certain level of diversity throughout the album, it doesn't pull out any huge punches from left-field. Nevertheless, it's a fun listen overall, and fans of Immortal will surely need to check it out.
Images courtesy of Season of Mist and Ester Segarra..