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“In the Eyes of Ioldanach” is kind of filling release of Absu between their two awesome albums: “The Third Storm of Cythraul” and the amazing “Tara” LP. It contains only four songs and seventeen minutes of music, so for some of you it may not be enough, but at the same time Absu never disappoints and this 12” vinyl is great again and deserves to be in the collection!
Obviously from the very first sound, when you listen to “In the Eyes of Ioldanach”, you just know it is Absu. This is one of these very few bands, which are so characteristic, unique and special in their style and sound that it is impossible to mistake them with something else. More so and luckily, no other band even tried to copy them, as it would simply be impossible to recreate the atmosphere and viciousness of Absu music (and that includes especially the furious drumming and vocals of Proscriptor McGovern). Of course Absu has also been changing and developing through the years and we can hear that from album to album they have been adding something new to their music. In that aspect I think that “In the Eyes of Ioldanach” is their most aggressive, vicious and harsh, violent recording. It is a crushing and thrashing black metal furious attack! So fuckin vigorous and obscure! Both songs on side A – “V.I.T.R.I.O.L.” and “Hallstatt” – are as fast and powerful as you can imagine Absu ever to be. Of course it also means that “In the Eyes of Ioldanach” has no atmospheric parts, which made such “Barathrum V.I.T.R.I.O.L.” and “The Sun of Tiphareth” so utterly exceptional… but this is just an EP, so maybe it works in different way. What will strike you is how brilliantly and richly arranged that material is. Just listen to “V.I.T.R.I.O.L.”, a highlight of this EP… what a killer riffs and totally mad and complex drumming of Proscriptor. Wow! In the entire material he shows his incredible talent and makes jaw drop to the floor. How can he do it and scream at the same time, keeping the fast tempo and everything? Amazing.
Side B is even better, it contains another two anthems – “Manannan” and newly recorded version of “Never Blow Out the Eastern Candle” and that fast pace is kept almost all the time, but at the same time there’s a lot of variety and so many special moments, fillings, amazing arrangements… Such “Manannan” may seem a simple song, as it is based on practically one motif, which goes on and on, with similar lyrics lines through it, but how brilliantly it works and what a grinder it is. And what can I write about “Never Blow Out the Eastern Candle”… it probably is the best song here, so awesome that I am not surprised Absu didn’t want to leave it unreleased (it only appeared on the Osmose compilation CD before!) and re-recorded it for this EP. What I like about it is that it has slightly epic feeling here and there, obviously the majority of is played in fast tempo anyway, but that feeling and dark atmosphere are there. So, it really sounds very, very cool, in my opinion.
Standout tracks: “Never Blow Out the Eastern Candle”
Final rate: 70/100
Absu made a huge impact in the US Black Metal scene with the follow up to this EP with their album Tara, which was relentless. We see where that aggression and precision came from through this EP. Here we have 4 great songs, with one of them being featured as the single on Tara.
We see Absu at their tightest on this EP. The production is perfect for their style, the drumming is insane and Proscriptor's vocals sound possessed! The guitars are right and intense, as they should be. Essentially, everything is clicking on all cylinders for 4 songs on this second part of a three-part album trilogy.
The version of Manannan is arguably better on this EP than on Tara because of the production and the outro solo that is actually audible. The production makes it sound a lot more crushing than on Tara. One could argue that if Tara had this production rather than the overpowering drum production it currently has it would be an even more amazing album.
Overall, the music is absolutely relentless and thrashy with black metal vocals from Proscriptor, who holds one of my favorite voices in the black/thrash scene. Absu has always had really catchy tremolo picking and nothing is different here. Also, as with most of Absu's efforts, Proscriptor's drumming is the main highlight of the EP because he does some really complicated drumming rhythms really fast, which has never failed to impress me. Never Blow out the Eastern Candle provides some really catchy and relentlessly heavy parts, and is arguably the highlight of the album, if one had to be picked. In general, the music is VERY tight and very thrashy. I can't think of a band that pulls of pure black/thrash better than Absu does.
There really is no one highlight of the EP, as all the songs are pretty crushing and similar in style. If you're a fan of Tara or their new album, Absu, I highly suggest you check out this EP. For relentless black/thrash with Proscriptor on drums, which is always a good thing, you can't go wrong with Absu.
Absu - In The Eyes Of Ioldanach
I can not believe I almost passed up not buying this in a used music store. This is the final release, not counting the video, before Absu's latest full length Tara. The songs could fit on Tara, and one of them songs did appear on Tara. The songs are pretty well defined and are quite distinct. The lack of diverse songs was a problem that popped up later. The album's lyrical content is centered around Celtic mythology which would be quite interesting if I knew what Proscriptor was singing/screeching about. Proscriptor has one of the most recognizable voices in black metal. I know Absu is not totally true bm but his vocals are not the typical grim vocals nor does he use an unintelligible wail. His vocals are high pitched and understandable. Proscriptor pounds away like a madman on drums. Shaftiel rips it up on guitar, and as usual performs backing vocals. Equitant is on the bass. Now on to the album.
In The Eyes Of Ioldanach starts off with V.I.T.R.I.O.L.. It is a great song and is one of the more distinct Absu songs. V.I.T.R.I.O.L. is a superb way to kick the EP off. V.I.T.R.I.O.L. kicks off nice and speedily. You know something special is going to happen, at the first two lines: They stare towards the heart / They stare at the stone. Starting at 1:18 V.I.T.R.I.O.L. has a few nice guitar solos. Proscriptor shows off with some very flashy fills. I have heard people say that Absu uses the drum fills as solos, but when you are as talented as Proscriptor; well you would have some damn fine fills too and they are everywhere. The overkill of fills becomes overwhelming and repetitive.
Then we move on to Hallstatt which is a pleasant song, but it slacks a bit to its predecessor. The instruments seem to be pushed back in the mix too much. The mix is somewhat thin which is sad since the drums are not as flashy in this song and the guitars are more noticeable. The echo effect on Proscriptor's vocals in the song get quite redundant. There are some satisfying solos at 3:02 and 3:11- 3:18.
Next is Manannan, which was the only track from here to appear on Tara. Manannan sounds better on here then on Tara. This version sounds richer, because of a meatier mix on this song. It goes along well enough, but it was kind of a lost track on Tara and one here, but not as much. On this release it does not shine and is not a weak track. It is an above average song. This song has the most prominent guitars of any song on In The Eyes Of Ioldanach, which is a good thing. I have to say that Proscriptor & Equitant used the lyric "I am" in this song way too much. The use of "I am" goes overboard in a jiffy.
Never Blow Out the Eastern Candle. Oh yes its here the highlight of the album. Did I say V.I.T.R.I.O.L. was great? This song blows all the other songs on the album to pieces. Never Blow Out the Eastern Candle sounds atypical of the rest of the songs. The songs were different to each other, but this is way out there. It has that epic feeling that Stone of Destiny had later. Interestingly enough this song was written in 1993 instead of 1997 like the rest. Every instrument has a great place in the mix. The riffs in it are quite marvelous. Proscriptor in this song shows off a lot, but it does not have fills every other second and is not obnoxious. Proscriptor goes berserk on his kit, but he has a nice sense of melody.
I must say one last thing, the band shots were much better here than on Tara which were cheesy.