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I avoid as much as possible to use the “legendary” epithet. Overused term, attributed to countless bands, it was gutted by dint of being led astray. But how would we call Absu then? American black metal pioneer (also known as “United States black metal” or USBM), founded in the early 1990s, this group is a modern dark metal pillar, whose influence on myriad of other formations is undeniable. Particularly active during the second half of the 1990s, this trio led by Proscriptor McGovern experienced a hiatus between 2001 and 2009, a period being used to develop other projects. The excellent self-titled album released in 2009, their fifth only, marks the forefront return of the band. Ambitious, both musically and lyrically, this first album in eight years showed that these Texans’ black thrash had not aged. Now, however, is arriving Abzu, their highly anticipated new album (second of a trilogy which will conclude with Apzu, whose release date is unknown).
The scream launched at the start of Earth Ripper immediately reveals the direction taken by this album: it will be old school! As such, we could swear it belongs to a 1990s thrash metal compilation. It shows all knowledge and effectiveness of a band that has over twenty years of malfeasance on the clock. It goes fast and it hits hard! It continues with Circles of the Oath and a syncopated rhythm, which sometimes leaves room for short and surprising clear guitar passages. Thrash metal class continues with Abraxas Connexus, which gets slower half-way but leads gradually to a very successful new rhythmic sequence. Skrying in the Spirit Vision, however, is the weakest song on the album. Its first two minutes are too predictable and pace is a bit circular and repetitive. It Became Time & Space is a proper song, but its purpose is clearly to introduce the final chapter of the album, A Song for Ea, which is composed of no fewer than six sections, as many small parts that all come together to form a single song. Note the magnificent passage called The Sound Waters – The Denizen, which intersects classical guitar, tubular and keyboard. It gives a beautiful moment of poetry, unexpected in such a monument of heavy metal.
Group’s mysticism and its continued interest in magic and mythology, are here beautifully supported by a damn effective song writing. Absu members (well, the only member left from the 90’s, as a matter of fact) were able to dig into their repertoire in order to extract what makes its strength and hit the bull’s eye with this new album. Although short (just over 36 minutes) Abzu is a great achievement, a milestone in the history of a… legendary band! 8/10
Originally written for Métal Obscur.