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I suppose there are different reasons why potential listeners would be drawn to the new album by this group of revivalists from Tokyo. Some may arrive at an inquisitive listen just by half-heard or quickly glimpsed rumors of their last album, which a number of people in the underground consider to be a sort of standard for the Japanese take on retro black metal... I don't really know... some may come to this based just on Drakkar's reputation or the curiosity engendered by this label relaxing their penchant for monochrome and all things Scandinavian or Gallic in releasing this technicolor Asian curiosity. I guess it doesn't matter. In any case, what we have here is a band fascinated by a long-lost period of '80s thrash metal trying to recreate what, for them, must have been a pleasurable infatuation with the atmosphere and feeling of bands such as Motorhead, Venom, and then (I am guessing here) earlier Japanese hardcore like Gism and Lipcream. So... on this release Abigail sounds like Motorhead filtered through a tighter, more refined Welcome to Hell-era Cronos and company and then injected with the vocals stylings of a SOB or related grind band, overspread with deliberate and obvious nods to Black Sabbath. Closer "War 666" sounds like Metallica. It's a strange, fortunate melding of disparate elements, with the clean uberthrash trebly guitars of Asuka being whipped into an expert frenzy by the crazed kamikaze (sorry for the clichéd Oriental adjective, I couldn't avoid the self-indulgence) screams and cries of frontman/bassist Yasuyuki and pulsing trad rock tag-along percussion of Youhei on "hellhammers". That might sound like a tornado of ill-fated characteristics, an unwished-for melange of crass culture references, but it works... and I don't really know why. Is it the conviction on display, the enthusiasm, the sheer delight this band shows in recreating the past? Something else? Just the novelty of the sound? I hope each listener can decide on his or her own.
One thing is easily determined, however: this is not the type of band present on "Intercourse & Lust", so prepare yourself for that.
There is a Sigh connection here as well: Mirai performs two organ solos and comes in on session vocals, as the lyric booklet suggests, and there is an appearance by guitarist Shinichi, who seems to be doubling the string tracks. I have no idea how these two bands are related or why these extra musicians appear here. Perhaps they were just in the right place at the right time?
There is precious little darkness or brooding malevolence to be discovered on this record, and at first that was disconcerting coming from this label, who specialize in all things murky, morbid, and dreary (if not just death-worshipping), but there is enough crystalline nostalgia being distilled on this album to make it listenable and, for an older fan of metal like me who was around when this type of music was first coming out, it can be a welcome return to pleasant memories. This kind of music presents metal at a stage when it was still closely allied to straight hard rock and that purity/simplicity of sound and bouncing enthusiasm in the riffing is amusing to contemplate and fill one's head with in this time of jaded subtleties and world-weary, technical melodic labyrinths. If nothing else the insane Engrish in the lyrics will bring a smile to your face.
It’s been 6 years since Abigail's first album Intercourse and Lust has been released and 6 years in which Yasuyuki spent more time with his other band Barbatos in which he released two Barbatos albums, well Rocking Metal Motherfucker the same year as Forever Street Metal Bitch. And that Barbatos album title would be a fitting description for the sound of this album. It seems like Yasuyuki wanted to do something more in vein with Barbatos but still different and unmistakably Abigail. While Intercourse and Lust was some kind of thrash metal with some NWOBHM and black metal influences, here he decided to drop the black metal influences and expand those other influences - which he obviously does in Barbatos but in a more raw and punkish way, and with different lyrics - making his new album more... rocking.
So Abigail's sophomore release lost all that was black metal in their sound, adding more thrashing goodness and some heavy metal feel and a little melodic and a slightly punkish edge. The sound has slightly improved, making the vocals and the instruments clearer but still contains some rawness. Most songs are fast paced or in the upper side of mid-paced like "Damned in Hell", half of them are under the 3 minutes mark making the album no longer than 30 minutes. Longer than that, the album would obviously feel too long, it is meant to be a burst of raw, rocking metal energy to break your neck to. The riffs are definitely great; they are thrash but have some heavy metal quality making them somewhat different and very memorable. A couple of them are repeated to lengths but in a good way, comparable to the main riff in Destruction's "Death Trap". Youhei sounds great on the drumming kit, some great beats are played; fast punk/drumming with interesting cymbal hits. Yasuyuki's bass his mostly clearly audible and has that addictive rumbling sound. Sigh's Shinichi also played some solos which are absolutely kickass as usual and as any Abigail solo. An oddball here, is the organ lines in "We're the Pussy Hunter" and "Struggle to Death" courtesy of Mirai, it's odd to find these in that kind of release but oddly enough it fits very well and are interesting to listen to. Lyrically it seems to be pretty much the same thing as usual - hell, destruction, thrashing, sex - with some more about the latest.
Wrap all those elements in a shell of old school attitude, it can be somewhat comparable to retro thrash bands but unlike them, Abigail aren't pure thrash. They have enough other influences to make them sound like a breath of fresh air compared to them. Abigail's goal is much like playing addictive fucking metal, which they pretty much succeeded in. The album's a no brainer, there's no complexity to be found, no chills down your spine - unless you're breaking your neck. Actually I found this album not so accessible at first, probably because it was too straightforward, fast and simple for me. But it's actually why this album is so compelling, it doesn't pretend to be otherwise and they pulled it off remarkably. If you happen to stumble across Forever Street Metal Bitch, you need to get your hands on it, unless you like your metal more intelligent.
After listening to Abigail's debut "Intercourse & Lust" for several months, I decided to check and see what else the band had to offer. What I eventually saw was this album right here. At first I wasn't too sure about it, seeing that the songs were a lot shorter than those on the previous album, and the lyrics were not too strong, either.
Then I noticed that both Mirai and Shinichi of Sigh fame contributed to the album and knew then that I had to get it. After hearing the album for the first time, I couldn't even believe that I doubted this album in the first place!
One thing that all people who heard the debut album will immediately notice is that the songs sound a lot less dark than "Intercourse & Lust." The first review written for this album put it perfectly: a fusion of Venom and Motorhead. Fans of Barbatos' "Rocking Metal Motherfucker" will fall in love with this album.
The songs are short, but that also helps the album, since the band doesn't keep repeating the same riffs over and over again to make the song longer. Yasuyuki's vocals are also easier to understand than the vocals on "Intercourse & Lust." The guitar is very melodic, much more so than "I&L." 'Attack with Spell' and most of 'Hail Yakuza' from "I&L" will give you an idea of what to expect here. But still, that isn't enough to fully describe what you will be hearing here.
Overall, this album is great. I actually prefer it over "I&L" simply because the songs will stick in your head long after you are done listening to it. Go and pick this album up if you see it. The album's cover art is kind of hard to miss. You'll be glad you did.
Putting out a bunch of Barbatos releases between Abigail full lengths definitely had an influence on Yasuyuki. Whereas Abigail's previous full-length, Intercourse & Lust, was a pure fusion of black and thrash, Forever Street Metal Bitch is a slightly blackened fusion of Venom and Motorhead-style metal (pretty much what Barbatos is). The lyrics here even stray from more blackmetal-type subjects to subjects like nailing chicks and drinking beer.
Forever Street Metal Bitch is blistering pretty much the whole way through, with a couple of slower, more thrashy songs (kind of like Attack With Spell from I&L). It also is a very melodic album, as one would expect from an Abigail album heavily influenced by Barbatos. The guitarwork is incredibly awesome, as it is on all Barbatos and Abigail releases, with all sorts of little noodly intricacies mixed in with the blistering riffage. The drumming, goddamn, is great, especially working the cymbals; there could be some more double bass and interesting fills, but can't there always be? The only disappointment of this album for me was the vocals. Yasuyuki's vocals are so raw and insane on Intercourse & Lust, and though you can tell they're the same here, the production muffles his voice in favor of more bass and melody. Yasuyuki still sounds good, but the production was much better for vocals on I&L. However, the production on this album greatly fits the heavy-metal-meets-thrash with a tinge of black.
According to the booklet, Mirai from Sigh contributed organ solos. Well, you have to wait until the end of the album for them, and it's actually just one. But hey, I'll take any Mirai I can get.
-- Damned in Hell [slower than most of the album, very melodic, just an all-out good, old-fashioned rocker]
-- Charge! [My favorite cut on the album. Fast and incredibly fuckin' heavy. Features an unbelievably great breakdown that culminates in a tight solo]