Dread Reaver

I have an ex-girlfriend who had a favorite phrase of “I can do it myself” when I would try to help her. She was half joking. Maybe. Cut to us in my kitchen at the time, this phrase came about when I offered to help her with grabbing her drink while cooking, it fell on the floor and spilled. What’s this have to do with the everyone’s favorite black metal weird uncle, Abbath? Well, let’s just say it can be admirable to want to do things yourself, but sometimes you should enlist someone else.

This is not to say Dread Reaver isn’t fine, albeit pretty much what you expect, but he should have left the mixing of the album to someone else. It sounds a lot like early Bathory, which is cool when you think about it for a moment, but when “Acid Haze” finally kicks in, you realize this is 2022 and what was charming for early Bathory was also the best he could do at the time and aesthetic choices such as this now are baffling. If you can get past the fact that all you can really hear are the vocals, guitars, and tinny drums, and let’s be honest, you probably can, there’s a lot to enjoy here. I just don’t understand why Abbath would take such a chance burying his bassist Mia Wallace, considering who her husband is (does Marsellus Wallace look like a bitch to you?).

As you go further along into the album and get used to the sound, ummm, choices, one of the first songs released, “Dream Cull,” stands out with its flamenco guitar intro. It also has a bit of an industrial feel with the vocals being backed up in parts with sparse guitars and a drumbeat. Those croaked vocals somehow sound just as good as ever, and that guitar solo is fiery!

I want to mention “Septentrion,” because what the fuck is that (Google tells me it’s actually a word, so checkmate to you Uncle Abby). This track can be seen as Abbath wearing his influences on his… ummm, spiked leather gauntlets? It sounds a lot like early Immortal (duh) or even a blackened version of Motorhead. Or, you know, Venom. The track itself is a solid banger with the chorus being a word difficult for some to pronounce, and a solid guitar solo.

Speaking of solid guitar solos, there’s a cover of Metallica’s “Trapped Under Ice” for whatever fucking reason.

At the end of the album, though are where the best two tracks reside in “The Book of Breath,” a book one of my friends really needs to read (halitosis, bruh) and the title track “Dread Reaver.” The spoken word section and clean guitar break on the former brings atmosphere that should have been present throughout. The latter also employs some spoken word vocals. This track is pure Immortal, though.

This is an enjoyable listen if you can get past the mix, which did at first offend my ears. In fact, a track or so in on the first listen, I just switched to a different album. I think it’s better than Outstrider, but not quite on par with the first solo outing. If you know what you’re getting into, you’ll enjoy this.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by J Mays
April 7th, 2022


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