ABBATH — Abbath (review)

ABBATH — Abbath album cover Album · 2016 · Black Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3/5 ·
Abbath (2016) is the self-titled debut album of the new project by former Immortal frontman Abbath Doom Occulta, formed after his unexpected exit from the legendary black metal act in 2015. I'm sure that I wasn't the only one shocked by this turn of events. Immortal had broken up once before, sure, but this time Immortal is supposedly continuing without Abbath. I know that there has been an ongoing legal battle between the members of the band for some time, but I'm not sure we'll ever know the full details of how the partnership of Abbath and Demonaz came to such an end. It remains to be seen how Immortal fares without their iconic frontman (currently Immortal consists of just drummer Horgh and lyricist Demonaz) however what we do have is Abbath getting back out there fast with this first album, which features a band completed by prolific black metal bassist King ov Hell who also played with Abbath in I, as well of course being perhaps best known for a stint with Gorgoroth. Drummer Creature (Benighted) completes the line-up here, though has since departed Abbath's band.

The primary element of the music on Abbath is of course black metal. This isn't too far removed from Immortal, Abbath's rather distinctive vocals single-handedly see to that, but it would be unfair to just write Abbath off as Immortal 2.0 as throughout the album it's like he's been given more room to explore some additional influences and territory, some of which Immortal never really touched. Ashes of the Damned for example features a few symphonic sounding stabs for effect while some of the more traditional metal influenced parts of course bring mind to the I album Between Two Worlds (2006) (there is also a cover of Judas Priest's Riding on the Wind as a bonus track, which also appeared on the Count the Dead single, which features this sort of sound). Another bit may be leaning towards thrash metal which Immortal did (in a much stronger way) on the albums At the Heart of Winter (1999), Damned in Black (2000) and perhaps more notably, Sons of Northern Darkness (2002). The thing is as far as this album is concerned it doesn't feel like Abbath is really prepared to go very far with this outside ideas, as if he's just testing the waters to find out what works and what doesn't, or how well such things are received. Ultimately this means they don't add all that much enhancement to what is otherwise a largely business as usual black metal release.

I think that Abbath is a good release, without a couple of standouts being Ashes of the Damned and Winter Bane, but overall I don't find that this one really manages to stand up next to the legacy Abbath helped create for Immortal. There's nothing here that packs a punch the way a track like Immortal's One by One does even though the playing is on the more aggressive and direct end of the black metal spectrum, which in turn also means that there's little room for atmosphere on the album. I think that there is evidence of potential for the project to be heard here, but right now it kinda feels like Abbath's a little lost without long-time cohort Demonaz. Hopefully either Immortal sorts out their differences or Abbath finds his feet should he do a second album under his own name.
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