Absu
Tara

Personally, I’ve always viewed Absu with a glazed eye from afar. Having only heard a few scattered songs from each of their four records ‘ and, at that, merely thinking they’re a loose ‘n’ clattering retread of old-school German thrash (Sodom, Kreator, Destruction, duh) ‘ but also having heard about band-leader Proscriptor’s ambient side-project, Equimanthorn, and read about his emphatic claims that his band of Texans play ‘occult metal,’ my curiosity’s nonetheless been piqued on occasion.

So, along comes Tara, their fifth and latest installment, to begin my proper introduction to these self-fancied weirdos. From the word go, I can at least tell you this much: Tara is Absu’s fullest-produced effort so far, but that might be saying too much considering how boxy previous ones have struck these ears. Well, the boxy drums remain — no doubt abetted by frequently clunky, so-wrong-they’re-right fills (think Graveland, both style and sound) ‘ and we’re also treated to a certain ‘concept’ being explored on Tara (dig those bagpipes, dudes), the album split into two ‘phases, ‘Ioldanach’s Pedagogy’ and ‘The Cythraul Klan’s Scrutiny’ (and sound as much, as if they were recorded during separate sessions). And with this concept, we also get some, um, curious song titles: chronologically, ‘The Cognate House of Courtly Witches Lies West of County Meath,’ ‘She Cries the Quiet Lake,’ and ‘Yrp Lluyddawc’ ‘ I mean, these guys are from Texas, for fuck’s sake! Whether such song titles and their attendant lyrics are merely laughable (probably) or convey some sort of dark art beyond mortal comprehension (probably not), Absu nevertheless kick out some primitive yet imminently enjoyable black thrash that immediately recalls ‘ and all the better for it, methinks In the Sign of Evil-era Sodom and Kreator circa Endless Pain, maybe even taking a nod from Tormentor’s cult Anno Domini demo.

To their credit, however, Absu take a hearty stab at Mercyful Fate-esque melodic drama on ‘A Shield With an Iron Face’ and (more so) ‘Stone of Destiny (‘for Magh Slecht and Ard Righ),’ actually succeeding despite their inherently rusty attack. To restate the obvious about both band and album, then, what Absu do on Tara is pretty restricted, but what they do within those relative confines, they’ve made a rather comfy home.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Nathan T Birk
May 21st, 2001

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