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Forming earlier that year, Abigor's 1993 'Ash Nazg' demo was the Austrian black metal outfit's first semi-official attempt to get their musical ideas onto a recorded medium. While Abigor's first full-length 'Verwustung' would demonstrate a firm grasp of the black metal style, this demo sees Abigor rotting in a barely audible lo-fi dungeon. While I would say that 'Ash Nazg' will satisfy the diehard fans of the band, it will likely repulse anyone and everyone else.
In terms of songwriting, each of these three tracks does have potential. The central riff of 'Dance Of The Dead' has got some beauty to it, and the band's use of medieval samples creates an interesting atmosphere. As is normally expected for a demo, the sound quality and performance here is poor. What makes 'Ash Nazg' verge on the brink of 'unlistenable' is its recording standard and sound. Black metal often prides itself on a bleak, lo-fi sound, but the music is almost entirely obscured by blatant recording errors, and a mushy mix that turns T.T's drumwork into a disappearing act. 'Dance Of The Dead' is the only song of the three which manages to get out alive, although it is scarred, bruised, and badly beaten.
The music here would show potential if it was not murdered by a painfully weak execution. The dreadfully out-of-tune guitars and washboard production far outweigh the mildly interesting acoustics and samples Abigor has to offer here.
Abigor's first demo provides an interesting development in the field of black metal, but ultimately leaves one unsure as to how to react.
On one hand, there are obvious glimmers of talent that show up intermittently throughout these three tracks. Phrases change drastically from one to the other yet manage to retain a certain connective tissue. The music does not become boring at any point, and the inclusion of Dead Can Dance samples shows an inherent fondness for ancient forms of music that would become much more apparent later on in their discography. Much the same effect is derived from the classical influences on the melodies in these three tracks, with guitars showing a propensity for (sensible!) polyphony that also would meet further development later in the band's career.
On the other hand, this is one of those releases which is drastically affected by its running time - the songs show too much effort for what little space they occupy in the listener's mind. The first two tracks in particular suffer from this; one can immediately sense they would leave a much stronger impression if they were further refined. As it is, however, one forgets that he ever heard this music.
Ultimately an interesting release, and by no means lacking in the appropriate spirit. It suffers from amateurish execution, and perhaps an overabundance of eagerness on the bandmembers' part to make something unique at the time. Despite this, it provides a worthwhile insight for someone looking to explore the deeper recesses of the genre.
Kind of interesting that the only other reviewer of this collects black metal demos and is put off by the sound quality. It's not really that bad honestly. You can hear all the instruments so what is there to complain about? I mean it's not even bad as Pure Fucking Armageddon or Voice of a Tortured Skull or anything from the LLN, so I'm assuming he must collect demos that have come out after 2003.
Th music on the other hand is borrrrring, generic stuff we've all heard. In Sin as actually pretty cool, but it's not fully developed and only 1:55 so it's rather pointless. The vocals are pretty bad on this. Sounds like a prepubescent Abbath. Shadlowlord starts getting interesting about half way though, but it doesn't really matter. The first song isn't worth mentioning and has the worst vocals.
These guys would get better later on. You can see the improvement quite quickly too. Their next demo beats the hell out of this one.
Eh... that's mostly what I have to say about this demo. Now I don't have a problem with demos. My last review was for a demo and it got a solid 95%. I also have no problem against low-fi albums, as long as it fits the atmosphere. However, the production on this demo does not contribute to the atmosphere it just simply sounds bad. I've heard albums with lower quality of production that I have enjoyed, but there's nothing of substance to even develop atmosphere.
The vocals on this album are rather atrocious, with an odd dying shriek, and then a random grumble once a while, and I think I hear a burp occasionally. Was the vocalist drunk making this album? I've heard worse vocals... but still, this is definitely hitting some of the top for crappy as vocalists.
And the guitars. When I picked up guitars, in the first month I was in a band and writing material x10 the quality of this, and I was in a deathcore band. Like common, it's not atmospheric, it's not harsh, it's not crafty, it's not even "klvt". It's just... bleh. The one good part of the album for guitars was the five or ten seconds of acoustical playing at the beginning of In Sin. Then it turns to shit like the rest of the songs.
So overall... this demo is going to stay in my collection for one reason. This is a valuable piece of Abigor history. Reminds us why they need a recording studio.