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Abbath Brought the Ice to Tucson, Arizona

Right this very minute, mammoth tour package consisting of Obituary, Abbath, Midnight and Devil Master is making the rounds through North America. I was fortunate enough to catch the mighty Abbath during their appearance in Tucson, Arizona. I reviewed “Outstrider” earlier during the year (you can read it here), so I was hellbent on catching them live if they played anywhere close to Phoenix. Tucson is only a two-hours drive from Phoenix, so after a quick change of clothes at home after work, I stepped on the gas and headed south on Interstate 10 for this must-see tour package of 2019.

I arrived during Midnight’s final song of their set, so that also meant that I missed Devil Master altogether. I was a little bummed about missing Midnight, but no worries about Devil Master. (I caught them at Psycho Las Vegas, meh…). After what seemed like an eternity of sound checking before Abbath, the fog machine was turned on and put on full blast for Abbath Doom Occulta’s grand entrance into an icy blue wall of mist.

While the classical entrance music was blaring, you couldn’t help but notice the monolith hugging the whole front length of the drum riser. Standing approximately ten feet high on the ends and made of die-cut aluminum (I presume, or else it would take more than two persons to carry the beast!), was the Abbath logo. Abbath Doom Occulta sauntered in front of it, unleashed one of his trademark grimaces and started riffing the intro chords of “Count of the Dead.”

Lurching into “Bridge of Spasms” next, I couldn’t help but notice that absent on bass was the very popular and busy, Mia Wallace. This was quite a letdown for me because the visual dynamic between her and Abbath Doom Occulta was part of the allure for making the trip to Tucson. Some on the spot Google research enlightened me that Abbath’s previous touring bassist, Rusty Cornell, was apparently called upon to fill in the low end for the North and South America tours. Another thing I found out is that he’s actually from Phoenix, Arizona originally. Who knew?

With only having a pair of releases so far, and to the delight of many in the crowd, Abbath Doom Occulta dipped into some Immortal favorites to fill out the set-list. “In My Kingdom Cold” and “Tyrants” were played back-to-back followed by the overly energetic “Ashes of the Damned” from the debut album “Abbath.” Between cheers and sipping beers, there was plenty of playful banter from Abbath Doom Occulta and the Arizonan laden crowd. This is why we love him. He’s a black metal comic book hero that makes some black metal purists cringe. You know what? Fuck those guys…Abbath is good for the black metal genre and for the state of heavy music in general.

Abbath’s final song, “To War!”, was immersed in an onslaught of blood red strobe lighting and was what the now ravenous crowd was hoping for as a finale. After Abbath Doom Occulta toasted the desert dwelling crowd one last time, the icy inhabitant from Bergen, Norway, left the now vacant stage. There’s no doubt that he adores his fans and every night he gets to don his iconic badger corpse paint, is cherished by him. Unfortunately, I had to make the trek back to Phoenix, thus in turn missing Obituary. However, it was well worth the out of town trip just to see one of black metal’s most likeable acts.

Greekbastard's avatar

Metal isn't just a type of music, it's a lifestyle for Nikos Mixas. In addition to playing guitar for the Phoenix's own Twingiant, he's a contributing writer for PureGrainAudio.com and The Sludgelord. And when he's taking a break from it all and on vacation, you can almost be certain he's banging his head at a metal festival somewhere interesting.

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