Abbath – Abbath (2016, Season of Mist)
Seven years after the release of last chapter of Immortal, All Shall Fall, and a series of judicial procedures over the use of the name Immortal, vocalist and guitarist Abbath, who is now on his own with bassist King Ov Hell and drummer Creature formed his own solo act : Abbath. It is supposed to be the continuity of his former band and not a side project like his entry in Thrash metal the band I.
First, I must admit on my side that when bands that want to be as grim and as evil as Immortal or Gorgoroth goes into legal dispute I have some reserve on the fact that do they need the name to continue to make music or are they just wimpy bitches. Anyhow, I was looking forward to the new Abbath album as much as any nerd was looking forward to J.J. Abrams’ new film featuring Han Solo and Chewbacca.
The statement of the first song, ‘’To War’’ is strong and clear; Abbath still wants to make Immortal-like Black metal. But when Demonaz left his duties of guitar and only took the lyrical content of Immortal, from At The Heart of Winter up to All Shall Fall there was a switch from Blizzard Beasts to At The Heart of Winter when Abbath took guitar duties. In fact, many fans of the band are arguing that this is where Immortal became Immortal. The band even changed its logo for a more Heavy metal inspired one compared to the Black metal they had since Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism in 1990. With ATHOW, Immortal became a Metal band making its own blend of genre mixing of Bathory’s Blood. Fire. Death era, thrash metal and even bits of death metal. Incorporating more and more melodic elements in their song structures and many classic rock references. Read here; ‘’Tyrants’’ from Sons of Northern Darkness being an homage to Led Zeppelin’s song ‘’Kashmir’’.
With Abbath, the frontman’s classic guitar work and vocals are just as it was when he was fronting Immortal. His composition of riffs is still to the point, cold, and precise. On ‘’Winter Bane’’ his penchant for rock and mid-tempos songs like in I is showcased. But the same reserve I have with All Shall Fall is that I think that Abbath’s writing is too similar to Quorthon’s classic Black metal Bathory era. The thrash infused rapidity and the Slayer (Hell Awaits was the template of Blood. Fire. Death.) song structure is keeping me awake that Abbath’s talent is limited by his emulation his influences. When a link is too obvious I tend to only have in mind the original. But believe me it hurts to write those lines.
Even if it is the great return of this Norwegian figure, despite all of what has been mentioned, I don’t want to be the detractor of one of my favorite metal acts of all time. The tracks ‘’To War’’, ‘’Count The Dead’’, ‘’Fenrir Hunts’’ are some of the best moments you get with Abbath and they are classics to become. ‘’Count The Dead’’ will be an essential in every show of Abbath. It has everything to hook any metal fan.
So this entry convinced me that Abbath still has it but I am not ready to cry out loud that it is an album that beats the best of Immortal did. It is in the same vein but I think that like Immortal, Abbath must find a constant line-up and have a chemistry similar to what he had with Horgh (drums on Immortal) and Apollyon (bass guitar). Creature has already left the drum kit for the band and he was replaced by Gabe Seeber. King ov Hell on bass, did a decent job and he was also in I. Since Abbath is Abbath’s name and band I fear that his egomaniacal tendencies might be the biggest harm for himself.