Abbath
Abbath

I have to admit, I was quite hesitant when it came to reviewing the self-titled debut from Abbath. Immortal was/is a band I’ve always held in high regard, and honestly, Abbath is one of my most anticipated releases of the year. Between high expectations and a critiquing ear, I just knew things were going to be doomed for me, as far as just enjoying an album goes. Alas, it appears I might have been worried for nothing, for even though my initial listen left me a little un-impressed, subsequent spins pretty much erased my first impressions and left me quite pleased with the old frosty one’s output on this debut.

There is really no need to rehash the story of Immortal and Abbath’s fallout, and his subsequent leaving to continue his ice storm on his own. If you pay any attention to metal happenings, then you have undoubtedly have heard enough of the issue. No matter your feelings on the subject, one can hardly argue that Abbath was Immortal, or at least for the last 17 years he was, and while I don’t want to spend time comparing his new music to his old, it is eventually and undeniably inevitable.

Abbath is a hardened metal veteran, not a new comer still searching for his sound. His songwriting and performance are what we fans are looking forward to in this debut, and the material marvelously blends the blackened, Blashyrkh ice-world of Immortal with just enough of the Quorthon versus Lemmy in a snowball fight, of  the other Immortal offshoot, I. To assume that Abbath would not be a continuation of the man’s ideas previously experienced would be erroneous.

Wasting no time, album opener, “To War”, quickly gets things started with an abrupt, yet mid-paced intro of sorts that has a modern metal feel, before transitioning into a nice little black thrasher that has a bit of a Sons of Northern Darkness vibe in the last 1/3 of the track. It’s a little standard, but a nice opening none the less. “Winterbane” is where things start to really pick up. The track is one of the album’s highlights, with its icy, infectious riffing that we’ve come to love and even expect from Abbath. ”Winterbane” is definitely a rocker, showcasing some great Geezer inspired finger work from bassist King, and driven perfectly by the fills and footwork of skinsman, Creature. Croaking his icy heart out, Abbath’s trademark picking takes over at the 4:45 mark, leading to a build-up that results in a glorious I inspired payoff that closes out the song in rocking, headbanging brilliance.

“Ashes of the Damned” and “Count the Dead” both take a similar path of assault with their high energy, furious blasts, and powerful riffing. They’re both great songs, neither of them being extremely unique, but both being very satisfying. The latter benefits from some terrific drumming that helps propel the track, adding intensity and power, while the former does suffer from a few seconds of pointless and even distracting synths, that annoys, but doesn’t truly hurt the song.

I’m a bit mixed, opinion wise, when it comes to “Ocean of Wounds” and “Root of the Mountain”. Both tracks are midpaced jammers, that essentially are good songs, but both leave me wanting more, and not in a good way. “Ocean of Wounds” actually brings to mind I’s “Warriors” or Immortal’s “Tyrants”, not in sound per say, but in structure and feel, yet plods along, failing to capture what those songs did. “Root of the Mountain” does succeed in bringing an ominous vibe, like an inevitable battle lies just ahead, and nothing can prevent or escape the doom that awaits. The song is mesmerizing and covers in a great Quorthon inspired aural blanket, yet in the end I was really hoping the song would rip open, especially around four minutes in, but it doesn’t, and though it’s a success in bleakness, it leaves me a tad hollow.

“Fenrir Hunts” and “Endless” are other album highlights, and personally, two of my favorite tracks from the release. “Fenrir Hunts” is as catchy as it is furious in its simple, yet epic black intensity. Creature’s drum work shift at the 1:35 mark to that thundering doublebass footwork is just straight up, heavy metal greatness, able to please any listener’s metallic heart. Album closer “Endless” is a fierce offering, focusing on and showing a sense of urgency in the hammering riffs. All three members work magnificently in building a wonderful intensity, the drums of Creature, simply crushing behind Abbath’s mighty riffage and spitting and croaking of venomous lyrics. It starts hard, and goes out hard, and is everything you could want from Abbath, especially in an album closer, it simply leaves you wanting more.

I’ve got to hand it to ‘ol Abbath, he really did a great job with this debut. While none of the material on the album ventures out of the man’s comfort zone, damn near all of it will wreck your neck. Abbath, the album, successfully blends the last 17 years of Abbath, the man’s, career in a brilliant fashion. As a whole I dug it just as much as I’s Between Two Worlds and definitely more than Immortal’s All Shall Fall.

 Yes friends, the bar has definitely been set high on this debut, not only for Abbath himself and future releases, but for his former Immortal bandmates, and any album that they may eventually drop on us. Regardless, as of right here, right now, he who dons the batwinged face is back, and sounding fantastic.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Kristofor Allred
January 22nd, 2016

Comments

  1. Commented by: Al Titmo

    Good review and an awesome album. What else needs to be said. Recommended.


  2. Commented by: E. Thomas

    Solid- clearly an Immortal album under a different moniker, and better than last Immortal album.


  3. Commented by: Guilliame

    Good Review. I’ll have to get this. Did want to point out a mistake, “one can hardly argue that Abbath was Immortal”. This is incorrectly worded. I would certainly argue that!


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