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Absu - "Absu" (CD)

Absu - "Absu" CD cover image

"Absu" track listing:

1. Between the Absu of Eridu & Erech (4:08)
2. Night Fire Canonization (3:19)
3. Amy (4:54)
4. Nunbarshegunu (3:06)
5. 13 Globes (4:47)
6. ...of the Dead Who Never Rest in Their Tombs Are the Attendance of Familiar Spirits Including: A.) Diversified Signs Inscribed B.) Our Earth of Black C.) Voor (7:03)
7. Magic(k) Square Cipher (4:49)
8. In the Name of Auebothiabathabaithobeuee (3:26)
9. Girra's Temple (2:39)
10. Those of the Void Will Re-Enter (4:56)
11. Sceptre Command (5:00)
12. Ye Uttuku Spells (4:42)
13. Twix Yesterday, the Day & the Morrow (0:58)

Reviewed by on May 29, 2009

"Rather than create a brooding atmosphere the album frequently would rather inspire fist pounding and non-stop head banging. "

After an eight year hiatus, Absu finally decided to bring a storm of furious metal down onto the masses again with a new self-titled album that has quite a few unexpected influences beyond the boundaries of its own genre. After such a long stretch of time, “Absu” could potentially be considered a comeback album, if such a mainstream term can truly be applied to a black metal band, and comeback albums are always dangerous beasts. At least one section of the fans will probably be angered by a new release after such an extended period of time, either because the sound changed too radically or there wasn’t enough evolution to justify staying in the shadows for so long.

During Absu’s hibernation, front man Proscriptor McGovern worked with quite a few different bands, and one of the perks of those many side projects was that the new album features an almost silly number of guest musicians. Names like Blasphemer of Mayhem, David Harbour of King Diamond, Nornagest of Enthroned, and several others round out the list of people involved. Although that might lead to worries of too many hands getting in the pot, the music on “Absu” is surprisingly focused and really benefits from the many individuals who lend their talent to the disc.

There is no mistaking that the core of Absu’s music is rooted directly in the black metal genre, but there are enough other influences present that it almost doesn’t qualify for the title. Rather than create a brooding atmosphere, the album frequently would rather inspire fist pounding and non-stop head banging. Although there are keyboards, they are kept to a minimum and work almost exclusively to provide minor rests between the guitar assaults. Most of the time they aren’t even heard, but that doesn’t really detract from the album at all, as “Absu” has its own sound, and it’s unquestionably guitar driven. Most of the guitar parts bring to mind the heavier thrash acts out there, almost to the point that the album would officially leave black metal behind if they dropped the growling vocals. Fans who think the synths need to take a back seat to the brutality will be more than pleased, but anyone expecting something more symphonic may be slightly disappointed.

Absu has also apparently thrown their hats into the ring for the titles of “longest song title” and “most absurdly unpronounceable name.” Nile fans get ready for this one, because it’s a doozy. Try saying “...of the Dead Who Never Rest in Their Tombs Are the Attendance of Familiar Spirits Including: A.) Diversified Signs Inscribed B.) Our Earth of Black C.) Voor” three times fast. Anyone who can actually figure out how to say “In the Name of Auebothiabathabaithobeuee” also deserves a medal. Then out of nowhere they decide to name a song “Amy.”

While on the subject of the name that is too long to write out again, it does feature a notable departure from the less symphonic elements. The track features a very creepy segment done in a stilted horror movie style that gives the impression of spiders crawling on violin strings while people carve themselves up with glass shards. Fans of disturbing sound effects in metal owe it to themselves to hear that particular passage.

“Absu” should really be listened to more than once to get the full effect. The first spin is such a blur of blackened thrash that everything blends together a little bit. By the second go around the spaces between the sounds become more apparent, especially on the opening track “Between the Absu of Eridu & Erech.” It’s fitting that the unheard sounds make the most impact as, depending on which mythological interpretation any given listener cares to ascribe to, the word “Absu” can refer to the great cosmic void where the creator being lives.

There is one side effect of the non-stop guitar onslaught that is worth mentioning. Despite the heavy occult themes and strong mythological grounding, the album doesn’t exude the feel of a mystical invocation created through music that many other black metal bands are able to produce. The end result comes off more as a seriously heavy album that wants its audience to contemplate destruction on a new level, and happens to deal with magic and legends as well.

“Absu” is an exceedingly brutal blackened thrash album that is played well, has tight production, and should satisfy any metal fan’s craving for something that will cause spontaneous head banging. While it doesn’t shatter any boundaries or set any new standards, it is still well worth the time of anyone who craves extreme metal with occult leanings.

Highs: Non-stop blackened thrash with great guitar and drum work

Lows: Only minimal synths, some minor repitition betwen songs

Bottom line: Top quality blackened thrash with lots of guest appearances by famous members of the genre

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)