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This album is something very special and it’s for sure an enormous improvement over the band’s demos. Before they recorded “Verwüstung” Abigor kicked their vocalist Tharen and replaced him with Silenius, thereby settling on the ultimate line-up of their early days: PK, TT and Silenius. I never liked Tharen’s vocals that much and Silenius sounds a lot better indeed. The production of this album is very good for the time that it was released. Back then most bands went for as raw a production as possible but Abigor got themselves a surprisingly heavy and clear production. This is good because all the metal tracks are re-recordings of demo/promo tracks, so here one gets to hear vastly improved versions of these. Normally I’m not that keen on bands re-recording lots of demo stuff for their first album. However, in Abigor’s case I hadn’t heard any of the demos before I got this album, so this fact doesn’t bother me.
In the early days Abigor were seen by many as being very influenced by Nordic black metal bands but I disagree. To me Abigor’s brand of extreme yet very melodic black metal is unique. Every song (except for the two synth tracks) relies heavily on guitar melodies but the music never becomes even remotely wimpy and more importantly, has nothing to do with melodeath. This is black fucking metal from start to finish. The band also successfully employ acoustic guitars on several tracks in order to create beautiful medieval parts that balance the otherwise ferocious black metal onslaught. Synths are used here and there but way too little for this to be called symphonic black metal, they just add some extra atmosphere. Like many other black metal bands, also Abigor occasionally use kettle drums to add a warlike touch to the music.
Silenius has a very high-pitched and aggressive voice, which fits the material like a glove and takes these tracks to a whole new dimension compared to the demo versions. Tharen, who often sounded like a croaking frog, would only have ruined the brilliant music. At times the vocals are a bit too low in the mix but that’s basically the only real flaw to be found here. Tharen is present on this album though, since he has composed the two ambient tracks: “Beneath A Steel Sky” and “A Spell of Dark and Evil”. The first really succeeds in creating an atmosphere of hordes gathering in order to fight “Eye to Eye at Armageddon”, which no doubt is exactly what it’s supposed to do.
“In Sin” is actually a combination of “Dance of the Dead” and “In Sin” from the first demo. The biggest improvement on this track compared to the demo version is the maniacal blast part with insane screams at the end of the song. Silenius performs this part in a much more insane manner than Tharen did. From “My Soft Vision in Blood” they decided to drop the very last part of the song (with acoustic guitars and whispered vocals) that was on the demo version but this doesn’t matter. The track that has been reworked the most compared to its demo version is “Weeping Midwintertears” (which was called only “Midwintertears” on the “Lux Devicta Est” demo). This new version is almost a minute longer and a lot more impressive than the demo version. They’ve e.g. added a new part to the beginning of the song and the calm part, which on the demo version was played on acoustic guitar, is played on keyboards here. The mood of this part is truly solemn, with Silenius’ harsh wailings contrasting the beautiful piano melody. On the demo the last part of the song consisted only of guitar riffing but on this version they’ve added both drums and vocals to the last part of the song plus some fine acoustic guitars at the very end – fucking awesome! The other tracks follow the demo versions pretty closely with some minor alterations to arrangements. Some tracks are also played a bit faster than the demo versions.
All in all, one of the best debuts ever in black metal. Abigor managed to create a style of their own and I can’t recall hearing many bands imitating them either. “Verwüstung/Invoke the Dark Age” is a unique piece of black metal art.