Abigor
Satanized (A Journey Through Cosmic Infinity)

Call Abigor’s Satanized (A Journey Through Cosmic Infinity) the sleeper of the year, but little could have prepared me for this. Satanized, the long-respected trio’s seventh long-player, is one of those mysteriously rare records where, if you don’t listen too closely, it’s bound to fly right past you into the night ‘ listen intently, however, and be dually rewarded.

Crackpot logic it may sound, but Abigor do everything wrong in the most right of ways here, and everything right in the most wrong of them, the production (courtesy of the trio and George Hrauda) the most overarching evidence of this fact. Stereophiles ‘ or, more accurately, those mindful of the metallic status quo ‘ will tirelessly argue that the album’s production is way off, everything mixed inconsistently or, at the very least, in the least conventional of manners, but first, the music. Undeniably and favorably Norse despite the band’s Austrian heritage, Abigor cut and swathe through Satanized with a blackened attack that splits the difference between pre-commercial blowup black metal (’92-’95, roughly) and old-as-dirt black thrash, guitarist Virus 666 P.K.’s icily melodic quick-picking easing such a transition by squarely landing himself somewhere’s between EP-era Ihsahn and pre-sidelining tendonitis Demonaz (pre-jailbird Jon Nodtveidt, perhaps?), all of which made odder by a ham-fisted nod ‘ both atmospherically and vocally, more or less ‘ to the winter-way theatrics of Garm-era Borknagar. So many references, eh? Well, in this day and age, mixing one’s influences ‘ or, conversely, the benchmarks and standards for one genre or another ‘ is tantamount, a surefire way to crash and/or burn (a pejorative and non-pejorative, respectively) in an era where any dopey-eyed label wants to snatch up your shitty demo and turn it into a limited-edition/twice-reissued digipack, but Abigor seem to have weathered the storm musically, given their near-decade existence and, relatingly, persistence to press on and play pick ‘n’ choose with underground metal’s various idioms, Satanized proving this assertion out to a (very sharp) point.

But the sharpest point here is the album’s ‘that really shouldn’t work’ production values, to which we now return. Most readily compounded by keyboards forlornly loitering in a lonely stratosphere miles above and beyond the proceedings (‘cosmic infinity’?), the mixing levels on Satanized are just totally off, and all the better for it: The bass tones on Virus’s guitar are frequently so overwhelming that they actually uncomfortably rattle the frames of your speakers, sticksman Moritz Neuner’s completely chaotic but none-more-fierce drums sometimes race ahead or trail behind everyone else ‘ thus, unaided by triggers, Pro Tools, or any other technological White Out ‘ while his coked-out fills and percussive punctuation are mixed loudly and harshly enough to wake the dead from their slumber, and bassist Thurisaz LiD’s vocals? Blackened rasps butting headlong into, again, a Garm-ish monk moan, the two contrasting styles colorfully clashing when threaded together, the latter usually higher and more prominently but so off that it works grandly, vaguely reminding this writer of the drunken vocal multi-tracking on Cathedral’s Soul Sacrifice EP ‘ in plainspeak, ‘why the fuck did they do this?’ Whatever, dude: brilliant, and blackly humorous in a charming, non-ironic sort of way. Say what you will about capturing a band’s ‘live essence’ (whatever the hell that means), but the studio can and should be used as another (integral) instrument, even if the manner-in-question isn’t popular, standard, or accepted.

What Abigor accomplish on Satanized evidences balls of steel, guts of granite, and a deliberately inebriated artiness not seen since Ulver’s Nattens Madrigal. Oh, yeah ‘ the music kills, too, if that was ever a question.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Nathan T Birk
March 20th, 2001

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