The term “U.S. black metal” is often mocked in many circles, but one exception to the rule is ABSU. The self-titled album was just the tip of the iceberg for their unique blend of thrash/black metal style, and Abzu will certainly be hailed as one of the top albums of 2011.
Upon pressing play, the immediate high falsetto scream is belted out, and “Earth Ripper” has thrashy elements, choppy black metal riffing, and drum perfection all meshed into one. The disharmonic black metal riffs found in “Circles of the Oath” really accentuate how far and mature the band has come along since their earlier death metal inspired albums. The riffs remind the listener of newer MAYHEM colliding with the acoustic interlude brilliance of DISSECTION. With the acoustic passage segueing into “Abraxas Connexus” and “Skryring in the Spirit Vision,” the continuous thrash spirit is alive and well with these occult masters, highlighted by the drum fills and quick hands of the underrated drum beast known as Proscriptor.
Compared to their previous albums, songs on Abzu are generally shorter, but the closing 14 minute track, “A Song for Ea,” is a spectacle in itself. From a mid paced beginning, changing into a whirlwind of thrash metal haven, the first half of the track forms an aggressive aura. The riffs then slow down, but stay interesting, adding excellent solos to enhance the atmosphere, finally ending with acoustic guitars. Once you think the album is set to a close, an epic and brutal end is brought forth.
Abzu takes many listens to comprehend and fully appreciate all that is offered, as new notes, cymbal crashes are all discovered upon each new listen. Newbie and mainstream black metal listeners won’t “get” ABSU, but for the extreme metal veteran, Abzu is a must buy. (Candlelight Records)