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Caught in between the dedication necessary to come out with another full-length, and the quick one-take demos they had done so many of, Abigor released 'Orkblut - The Retaliation', a mini- CD that met some acclaim and success when it was released in 1995. Although being little more than twenty minutes long, a similar quality to that which Abigor would employ on their full- lengths is here, making the album a good, condensed equivalent to a typical forty minute journey with the band. Abigor do not innovate much here, but there are enough fresh and exciting ideas woven into their traditional style to make 'Orkblut' stand as an engaging listen to this day.
Most notable of a sound for this band are their use of flutes throughout the EP. Split into a number of smaller interlude tracks, flutist Rune adds a tranquil, arboreal tinge to what is otherwise a fairly dark piece of melodic black metal. With half of the songs on the album being over within a minute, there is the sense that 'Orkblut' is meant to be listened to from start to finish, and in that respect, it works quite well. Abigor have created an interesting sense of flow for their music. Emperor would be a good comparison for the black metal sound of Abigor; although maintaining a dark atmosphere throughout their music, Abigor are able to weave some nice melodies into it, through use of guitar. The melodies are not particularly memorable, but they are a nice contrast to what would otherwise be a pure descent into darkness.
'Orkblut' is one of the band's first truly good releases, and they would get better from here. Abigor don't have the same innovative awe as a band like Emperor or Mayhem, but this Austrian act commands a similar sort of power in their music. 'Orkblut' is not an excellent album, but at last, their talent as musicians is finally able to shine through.
A shorter piece in Abigor's long career, Orkblut also remains a highlight. The album tells a story of a Pagan warrior rising up with his tribe to fight and die in battle, bringing a nihilistic resolve to his story that much like Cuchulain he shall fall and perish but shall destroy his enemies until his death. The music that flows through this concept revolves between fast paced shifting black metal attacks, acoustic and ambient breakdowns and some slower paced more melodic or moody sections. Interestingly the breakdown of the recording is such that though each piece is a seperate track, it is almost impossible to listen to it as anything less then a piece in of itself.
Beginning with the Prophecy which sets the stage of the record, we go into the Overture, which actually carries pieces of the emotion and notes of every section of the recording. After another interlude we go into the true heart of the album with The Rising of Our Tribe. Silenius' vocals are a highlight of this album, as they are on nearly anything he is on. His screams seem to come from some beyond, filled with anguish and hatred.
Every song on this EP seem to take turns and pathways that are at times unexpected, and yet they always seem to flow together, which seperates them from some bands with a similar, more technical style. Like Emperor's early works (particularly In the Nightside Eclipse) Abigor manage to integrate a fine whole into smaller pieces, and a fluid songwriting aesthetic.
Keyboard work, when used is effective, and is often most effective because they do not overload their songs with keyboards. They are used to highlight certain moments, or to add dramatics to the sections that need it. I feel the ambient and acoustic interludes provide a great clue to the atmosphere of the recording, like Ulver's Bergtatt or Satyricon's Dark Medieval Times, the acoustic/ambient sections manage to create a breathing space to let the mind wander into the fantasy world the band seeks to create. I believe the keyboards and in particular the ambient sections were done by Tharen, ex-vocalist and leader of Dargaard, which explains the high quality of all these pieces.
The combination of melodic, epic and blasting, at times atonal guitar riffs, all usually in one song, was not new to Abigor, and yet they had a way of refining it down to an art, creating black metal that truely reached a different higher level then many bands could ever approach. Their works are often neo-classical in its layers of composition, but they combine such artistry with also a love of hateful blasts of noise, which is in my opinion the place metal should be for the most part, somewhere between artistry and noise, with always with a sense of style, consistency and songwriting.
The atmosphere of the album is of a dark medieval past, paganism rising again, and a beauty in warfare. As such it represents much of what black metal should. A combination of the ancient and the modern, which is also reflected in composition. Most will hopefully find as much to like in this work as I do, but it requires careful listening, and an open mind. It took me a few listens to understand and enjoy all parts of this EP. It may be short, but it is a mighty recording.
This album is excellent, but can hardly be defined as metal in the usual sense. This is like Burzum's "Det Som Engang Var" album, but with even more ambient breaks. Abigor has managed to compose an album that encompasses the best of traditional music, ambient music and black metal. As long as you ignore the corny intro, you'll enjoy this album thoroughly. The black metal riffs are amazing, but what I find stands out more is the ambient tracks, which fit in the atmosphere almost seamlessly.
This album is around 25 minutes, and I believe this is the perfect length. While Abigor could have released this as a single track, I think it's almost more logical to break it up into pieces. This is probably what I would consider the epitome of ambient black metal. The ambient songs are moody and gloomy, while the black metal songs are extremely energetic, yet carry the same mood very well. There are no immediate flaws that can be found in this album, yet at 25 minutes, it gets old if listened to too often. It's quite the journey, but attempts to stick the concept right in your face, as though the atmosphere wasn't enough. While I believe the song titles and lyrics to be redundant, the songs are solid, which is what counts, I suppose.
Extremely melodic, as moody and atmospheric as possible, "Orkblut - The Retaliation" is an amazing piece.
Yes, Abigor. My first introduction to these Austrian horde was by the "Satanized" album, which I didn't like at all. But anyway, I picked up this release at the 7 dollar bin on a rainy day, not really expecting anything from it.
Well, think again. This disc represents some of the most powerful and epic tracks ever to be heard. "Orkblut, the Retaliation" is subtitled "Storming Onwards on Pagan Paths". The entire album is concept based, and it's about the life of a pagan warrior, from his birth until his death. To quote the booklet: ""Storming Onwards on Pagan Paths" is the story of a warrior who remembers his pagan origins which inflame his heart. It shows his life from the day he rises, his feelings and his last battle, until his death and the severance of flesh and spirit."
But, on to the music. Track 1, "The Prophecy", is a track which features spoken words, which tell about the pagan tribe our warrior is about to join. After the spoken prophecy comes a well performed flute piece which has a very catchy melody.
Track 2, "Bloodsoaked Overture", is a track which immediately starts off with the war drum alike drum sound, which I like so much, guided by a good guitar riff. This track features no lyrics.
Track 3, "Remembering Pagan Origins", is a keyboard piece which is supposed to represent a pagan athmosphere. But I'm not running warm for this one, I have to admit.
Track 4, "The Rising of our Tribe", is the first 'real' track on the CD. Like track 2, it starts off with the wardrums, moves on to top speed, and at halftime follows some sort of interlude. A classic guitar piece supported by electric guitar, pretty nice. Last piece of the track, Abigor give all they can which expresses itself in a furious and fast piece of music.
Fifth track, "Medieval Echoes". A piece played on the classic guitar, which I think is rather boring. But in a way, it fits in perfectly with the rest.
Track number 6 then. "Emptiness/Menschenfeind/Untamed Devastation". As you can see, this track exists of 3 different pieces. The first one, "Emptiness" is a 20 second piece played on a keyboard, and this track I totally adore. It has a really bombastic and orchestral feeling to it. "Menschenfeind" is sort of a prelude to the chaos yet to come. It's a midtempo track, not really all that special. "Untamed Devastation", that's where the chaos really begins. Fury all the way, and I like it very much.
Seventh track, "..To the Final Strike". I don't really like it, for me this song doesn't express what it's supposed to express. It sounds rather cheer- and joyful, and it doesn't really fit in the atmosphere of a coming battle.
"Battlefield Orphans", track no. 8, I like very much. It's very epic and majestic, high speed black metal mixed with keyboards and slow parts. Normally I'm not that much of a keyboard fan but Abigor seems to be in perfect control of it, without overdoing it.
Track number 9, "The Soft and Last Sleep", is a fourty second good performed piece of keyboard music, which fits perfectly in the atmosphere.
"Severance", track no. 10, is the final real track on the album. I even notice a cool thrash-alike riff around the end, supported by the famous war-drums. It even has a solo in it.
The last track, "Langsam verhallte des Lebens Schmerz", is a really good piece of flute music. It is meant as a sort of 'goodbye', and hereby ends this 25 minute during onslaught.
On the whole, some tracks didn't really interest me, but all those less interesting tracks fit in perfectly with the rest. Overall a great, majestic and epic album, and in my opinion, Abigor's best offering.
The tracklist of Abigor's second studio effort, "Orkblut - The Retaliation", is somewhat deceiving. With 11 tracks, anyone would think it's a full length we have here. That's because the song duration is not listed on the back cover. The truth is that "Orkblut" is a MCD clocking at around 25 minutes. Maybe if the duration would have been shown on the case many would turn away in disappointment, and they couldn't make a worse move.
This MCD is one of the most brilliant chapters in Abigor's career, and an unique offering in its own splendour.
Subtitled "Storming Onwards on Pagan Paths", "Orkblut" is the musical translation of a concept: the story of a pagan warrior which (re)discovers the origins of the pride and culture of his people and leads his tribe onwards into war, until he himself dies a glorious death in battle and finds tranquliity in the soft and last sleep. While the story may not be extremely original, it sets a very stimulating background for Abigor to unleash their creativity.
While the "complete" songs are only four, the album is full of instrumentals and interludes which create a great effect in terms of atmosphere. "Orkblut" may be best described as a single composition divided into 11 skippable tracks, which is obviously best enjoyed and understood through a single listening session. "Orkblut" is a concept mini album, a metal opera compressed in less than half an hour, something which stands unparalleled in Black Metal as far as my knowledge goes.
Even the aforementioned songs, however, have a shorter duration compared to Abigor's standards, but despite it they still manage to showcase many different moods and riffs as usual. Each of them fits the concept perfectly but could easily stand on its own, also thanks to this shortness which underlines the intensity and makes the stucutures less dispersive: "The Rising of Our Tribe" shows Abigor's talent in combining blasting assaults to moodier passages; "Emptiness / Menschenfeind / Untamed Devastation" is, as the title suggests, a three-part piece comprised of a beautiful keyboard introduction which turns to a guitar riff, an acoustic interlude and a furious grand finale; "Battlefield Orphans" is the perfect tune for war with its fast, breathless pace, and finally "Severance" shows an almost thrashy approach to speedy riffs.
The rest of the material is what holds the concept together and makes "Orkblut" a listening experience without a single moment of quality drop, a full immersion in the medieval and pagan atmosphere. These interludes feature beautiful acoustic guitars and flutes, narrated vocals and even ambient-like keyboard textures provided by the band's ex-member Rune / Tharen. Particularly amazing is "Bloodsoaked Overture", a great Black Metal instrumental which begins right after the first track, the introductory "The Prophecy", and evolves as a whirlwind of razor sharp riffs and thunderous drums.
This MCD is one of Abigor's best offerings and a courageous, norm-defying creation which should not be overlooked. Just let it carry you away into its ancient pagan atmosphere.