Good bye Immortal, welcome Abbath. This was quite a departure from the realm of Blashyrkh that the master of the crabwalk and distinctive corpse paint put to the audience. And with some real power to boot: The new self-titled album of this newly formed and self-named band just continues to fire away and indeed fires stronger than before during the Immortal years and now under this new identity.
The announcement of the remainder of Immortal in 2015 to carry on with business as usual had me reduced to a mad cackle. The essence and soul – the divine creator so to say – of the band removes himself and the skeleton wishes to survive? We will see, but for the moment I have my doubts. Sounds a bit like the demise of Supertramp, where after the departure of powerhouse Roger Hodgson, nothing much was left – be it only the ego of at least one band member. And it ended relatively soon thereafter.
So, I reckon something similar will happen here as well. And it is some sort of a nasty divorce with lawsuits and everything. Also unsure, if the accused left on his own or was pushed out by the rest, though. We will see what happens next and – for sure – what Immortal will produce in future in the absence of Da Master. Both Demonaz Doom Occulta and Horgh are determined to slave on and win. Or will the band finally prove to be … mortal?
But what is the offering that Olve Eikemo aka Abbath is saddling us with?
Well, he does for sure not let himself out on a limb. This is something very apparent in Abbath Doom Occulta‘s début offering. He really plays it safe – Norwegian Black Metal style, not pushing boundaries too much. And understandably so: Why make far-reaching changes, when there is a true and proven venue that can be used? The album is not really a copy/paste from former times, though. But for sure a freer version of times past with Immortal.
As visuals go, I do love the artwork of the album, by the way. Simply putting the beastly, corpse-painted countenance with yellow, gleaming eyes in front of you just puts this message across. You know exactly what to expect, simply by looking at the cover. And it ain’t nice and meak. Stellar!
And then the mysterious band selection: Apart from his black majesty, his old buddy King ov Hell aka Tom Cato Visnes graces us with bass. King already played with Abbath in his former venture ‘I’ back in 2006. He is also and mainly well known as a former disciple of Gorgoroth back in the times of Gaahl. A real, down’n’dirty black metaller.
Gabe Seeber handles drums (the man with the creature mask) and Ole André Farstad lead guitar – both said to be available for live performances only. And here a hail to the drum work on Abbath. Always present, but never overwhelming, they lead the way consistently – not bad at all. Much to the contrary of some other Metal gigs that just want to beat you into oblivion with endless, thundering blast beats.
Crunch!! This is what comes immediately to mind upon the first listen.
To War marches you off to a pretty, sturdy start, followed by Winterbane leading you on its riff laden course into this cold, battle reeking universe.
Have a taste:
Abbath has this knack to combine bare bone Black Metal riffing and shredding with melodic passages and other instruments coming out of nowhere. An abhorrence to many a real black metaller out there in the world. But to me this gets them this special kind of exotic flavor. And elevates the band from the underground crowd of a gazillion of Black Metal endeavors all over the music universe. A good example of mixing melodic with straight Black Metal is the track Ashes of the Damned, suddenly featuring wind instruments – albeit for a very, very short stint.
And you will find the rare solo in some of the tracks, Count the Dead containing one of them. Whoever thinks that all this melodic bullshit is too much, thou shalt be redeemed in Fenrir Hunts. A real scratchy, down-in-the-pit Black Metal track with a short solo being the icing of this black cake. Now the moment you think that they lost steam, Root of the Mountain takes off like a rocket. And worms itself into your brain with not only Black Metal, but also some Heavy Metal-ish and Doom-ish interludes.
Then kicks in Endless and first I got this one mistaken with Dani Filth and his nymphetamine laden Cradle of Filth, the structure being so cut about. But then got reminded real quick where this all comes from. Then – good one – they move on in some sort of old-style Heavy Metal vein with the bonus track Riding on the Wind. If they would not use unclean vocals, this could be spawned right out of some AC/DC nightmare. No doubt it did not make it into the main track list, but good nevertheless.
So, hail to Abbath.
What a rocking début one Olve Eikemo created seemingly out of nothing. Or did he? Now, we are hopeful to see what will come next on this channel of the distinctive corpse paint. I am really looking forward to some more crunch from that direction.
And to prove their point, the album got itself an honorable mention on the 2016 Top 10 Records. Well done.