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For the longest time I just "didn't get" this album. When I first got this album, my favorite Abigor release was "Supreme Immortal Art." I liked its rococo, orchestrated quality and it's towering bombast. WHAT, though, in the hell was this? As I came back to the album later, I began to really take in its unique sound a lot better.
"Channeling the Quintessence" is a bit like the older "Apokalypse" EP- taking a lot of the moodier and more atmospheric aspects of Abigor's sound out of the picture in favor of a much more frontal, relentless metal attack. But this album takes a few unusual routes from there. The guitars have an unusual quality to them, not just the kind of staticy treble-intense roar used by a lot of black metal bands to pare down the sound, but a warbling sound high in middle-treble frequencies, not very overtly different but enough to give the whole album an...odd quality. The vocals, too, are mixed in an odd way, consistently at two pitches ever so slightly off from each other, close enough that they sound like a single voice unless you listen closer.
And then there are the SAMPLES. Suddenly, the music is interrupted by...some kind of undescribable sound not belonging in nature. There's often a rather sci-fi feel to them, and the subtle popping and crackling of analog. It's entrancingly weird and comes out of nowhere.
For someone used to the moodier and more melodic "classic" Abigor, something like this may be a little hard to swallow at first, but it's really great experimental black metal.
There's just one thing to say about this as a whole: For a black metal album, it's really brutal. Though in it's own way, not in the raw and almost crudely produced 1349 "Liberation" album, not in the bland and uninspired tremolo picked power chord riff whoring of Dark Funeral and yet not in the riff-heavy death metal way. It's simply just fast with lots of blastbeats and brutal sounding guitars.
The thing that stands out the most to me with this album is the drumming. It's not overly creative or anything, but it's fast and technically proficient and it certainly gets the job done, setting the brutal mood. The production of the drums are perfect, the snare doesn't get lost in the mix while blasting, nor does it dominate everything when playing non-blast passages, either one or the other has a tendency of occurring way too often in black metal.
The guitars have some extremely nice riffs with a nice mix of tremolo picking, slower playing of small melodic themes and broken chords and nice chugging riffs, though absolutely not in the Gothernburg melodeath-vein, but as fills and transitions between riffs, very tastefully done.
The vocals are your standard screeching, not much new to get here. Same goes for the bass playing, standard and follows the guitars most of the time.
The songwriting on this albums is pretty good. There doesn't seem to be any extremely well thought out arrangements or so, but it keeps being fresh, it doesn't stale up or become boring or predictable, and it's not just a wild hodge-podge bunch of riff after riff thrown together, seemingly at random. Like I said, it's tastefuly done. Something you don't see too often.
This album is very easy to get into. It's straight up brutal stuff that you can bang your head to while sitting in your room, striking an Abbath-like pose when you feel that a certain part of a song is grim enough to deserve it. Pretty much your easy-listening muzak of brutal black metal. Unfortunately, it means that the music is pretty laid bare, there's not much depth to it, not like certain albums where you find something new each time you listen to it, you get it all down pretty well the first times and after that, it offers many good listens of brutal black metal without obstacles to your listening experience, but it's nothing that keeps it spinning in your CD player on repeat in an endless search for new details in the music.
To sum it up, it's brutal, it's fast, but it lacks depth. Still it's great for listening to when you want just that, when you don't want to listen to technical death metal to get your daily fill of brutality and speed.
Channeling the Quintessence of Satan is easily one of the most innovative albums in Black Metal history, and having heard every previous Abigor album, their best work. This album defines Black Metal is new ways. In a word: hellish. In a genre filled with the words ‘cold, grim, and bleak’, Abigor boldly lifts the middle finger and says ‘infernal, fiery, and dissonant’.
The very first track, ‘Dawn of Human Dust’, is a spectacular introduction, with metallic ambience opening it up and horror movie-type sound effects in the vein of Abruptum. Then onto crushingly slow guitars with treble that shatters your ears and bass that crushes on the percussion end. “A new born day waits to surrect…” lines like these have solidified this Austrian machine’s dominance in the ‘outsider’ Black metal genre.
The second track is absolutely hostile, followed up by two tracks of harsh blast-beat filled brutality. Wildfire and Desire is a highlight of the album, with perversion abounding lyrically. The album really picks up when we move to the song ‘Utopia Consumed’. An absolutely perfect moment of ‘fiery’ Black Metal happens when the entire band cuts out for some eerie ambience only to return with one of the most inherently evil riffs that I have heard before or since in all of the genre.
An absolutely perfect album ends with a perfect track in ‘Pandora’s Miasmic Breath’. Though the production quality falls significantly on this track, somehow, I don’t think anyone who listens to it will care at all.
Warning: those who are new to the Abigor experience should not form opinions of this band based on this album. Please seek out Opus IV or Nacthymnen instead to see if you can enjoy their completely unique and chaos-ridden baroque approach to raw and intelligent black metal.
This is the most studio-intensive album Abigor produced in its prolific career. One begins this listen with some dark samples of semi-industrial noise, followed by a clear synth string passage seemingly from a horror film, which conflicts bizarrely with the trademark blurred and haphazard black metal sound one is used to from this band. And yet within a few seconds, the blitzkrieg of metal maelstroms to be expected from this band burst onto the cd. Two minutes into this, and you know you are still listening to a band that favors complexity over minimalism as dense slabs of metallic flourishes clash into one another with the chaotic madness now expected by this Austrian powerhouse. Equally cut within the brooding baroque riffs dripping with opaque harmony are more simple sections of almost headbang-inducing pace and construction. Trademark guitar trills embellish almost boring riffs, and soon enough this lumbering beast of contradictions of a band is at it again as raging passages of black metal are cut short by short synth breaks, only to come back thoroughly perverted as buzzing organic shapes of jazz-like chords and intervals, continuing the style they perfected with ‘Opus IV.’
Songs here are frayed puzzles of riffs: maddening passages of ethereal melody suddenly slam into forests of thick chordal confusion, unidentifiable noises and samples dart in and out of long meandering sections of melodic phrases which seem to amble forward on three different-sized legs. This album, as most of Abigor’s others do, demands a good stereo to even attempt to understand the obscure but obviously intentional riffs buried within riffs. If this album does channel the quintessence of Satan, the dark one wearing a crown of fire is more alien and complex than simple-minded acolytes of evil give him credit for.
Besides the cold and clear machinations of industrial noise and samples that seem to appear with no warning, this is a thin and tinny recording considering the layers of production that obviously went into this. The Abigor bass drum sound losses much of it’s characteristic clicks in favor of a fuller range, but this new more normal drum sound gets lost in the sharp thin buzzing clouds of guitar tone that permeate this album’s sonic aesthetic. Drums blast along at perhaps the fastest overall speed of the band’s long career, but this addition does not significantly change the dynamic of the album. Vocals become even more soaked in reverb than before (which one may have not thought possible) and become more effect than traditional voice. Among the cold and soulless atmosphere created here, this vocal effect works nicely, but the drums and guitar do not mesh well; competing instead of complementing.
Overall this album is still heavily guitar-driven. Three part counter-melodies and vast multi-instrument chords still dominate this, but while before they were executed with more variance and occasional heavy metal bravado, here they mostly are dark and thick jumbles of notes that are hard for the casual listener to pick apart, which makes this album less appealing to non-fans of Abigor than many of its other works. This is still an excellent listening experience, but one can no longer say Abigor manages to change and improve with each release. If anything, this seems like ‘Supreme Immortal Art’ with less melodic keys and more noise and ambiance.