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Absu seems to be a band that you either get or you don't. There is enough to appreciate to lure in a lot of people, but yet just as much to repulse them as well. With their second full-length album, The Sun of Tiphareth, the band moves further away from their death metal roots and adopts more of a Scandinavian black metal sound. Released in March 1995, on Osmose Productions, it would appear that they were a little late to the party. However, as far as American black metal bands go, they were among the first.
The very first song, “Apzu”, does well to illustrate all that is right and all that is wrong with this album, right off the bat. This lengthy track goes past the eleven-minute mark and features a lot of variation. The fast drumming and cold tremolo melodies are done very well, though there is an odd mixture of '80s riffs as well. The transitions are not exactly seamless, but not bad. Where things really become annoying are the horrible attempts at recreating King Diamond's classic vocal style. Even worse, Absu had the nerve to utilize horrible passages of what sound like female vocals. These instances completely kill the momentum that the song had previously built up and do not fit in at all. There are moments where things seem to take on an epic feeling, but the song never realizes its full potential.
“Feis Mor Tir Na N'og (Across the North Sea to Visnech)” is next. It begins a bit slower than the previous song, but speeds up over time. The vocal approach is done right, with a torn-throat sound that suits the music. Unfortunately, the song suffers from the same inconsistent songwriting that plagued the first track. It could have done without the keyboards, also, as they really do not fit with the more old school parts. The faster sections are where this truly shines, with memorable tremolo riffs passing through all-too-briefly.
This is followed by “Cyntefyn's Fountain”, which is shorter and a bit more to the point. One major complaint is that the drums are far too overactive, with too many random fills taking the attention away from the guitar riffs. That has always been an issue with Absu, and is no different here. It is also worth noting that the production makes this even worse, by burying the guitars a bit and pushing the percussion too high in the mix. This song features a half-decent riff that is reminiscent of old Bathory but, ultimately, goes nowhere.
“A Quest into the 77th Novel” continues the trend of too many pointless riff changes, abandoning ideas that were doing well before having their legs cut out from under them. Thankfully, a few tremolo riffs manage to cut through the muddy sound and rise above the ever-dominant drumming, but these ideas are rarely expanded upon. More acoustic parts and female vocals kill the song's momentum and add another layer of cheesiness to this already failing record.
“Our Lust for Lunar Plains (Nox Luna Inlustris)” is a pointless instrumental. It seems someone just got a new Casio for Christmas and could not be persuaded to leave it at home, though it adds absolutely nothing to the album, especially as a lone track. More pseudo-goth nonsense to kill time.
This is followed by “The Coming of War”, which is a cover of a Morbid Scream tune. I am not too familiar with the original, but I have to wonder if it utilized the same horrid effects as this rendering. After a doomy intro, the song picks up speed and features a better mix than the majority of the rest of the album. The vocals sound far more evil and the song possesses a darker atmosphere than the original ones on this L.P.
Finally, the title track arrives to save the listeners from such mediocrity. This is the true highlight of the album, featuring the most coherent songwriting and some of the best riffs. It progresses from sort of an old school gallop to something much faster and more vicious. Distant tremolo melodies add a sense of depth, as the music straddles the line between '80s and '90s. The drums are still too loud, during certain sections, but it fails to ruin the song as in some other cases. The clean vocal sections with the brief drum solos could have been done without, and the song could have been a little shorter; however, this is still the best song on the album.
The Sun of Tiphareth is a record filled with countless flaws and it is a wonder that this band possesses the reputation that it does, as each album seems to be a mixture of good and horrible ideas. As for this one, they would have done well to leave out all of the cheesy goth parts and to focus on finding a better balance between their '80s roots and their Scandinavian aspirations. This is only recommended for those with a lot of patience.
Written for http://ritesoftheblackmoon.tripod.com
It seemed many of my friends never got into black metal, or never really breached the first or second wave initation ceremonies, listening to the likes of Bathory, Mayhem and Darkthrone. They would dabble in it, then return back to their staple diet of what ever the hell it was they were listening to. So whilst most of my friends were listening to "De mysteriis dom sathanas" I was already checking out this American black/thrash band Absu. To be honest the first album was a disappointment, I mean it when I say the genre really does have much better to offer from the period. But with "The Sun of Tiphareth" not only had they cleaned up their sound, the tables had completely turned! These guys were matching their Scandanavian counterparts in every which way, and this album has been cemented in the black metal genre forever. There is perhaps enough thrash orientated riffage, to keep the attention span of any thrash fan, whilst sticking to the trademark shrieking vocals of black metal, along with it's obscured alluring lyrical content. I will be honest this album definitely leans way more toward the black metal spectrum, but every now and again you hear a riff and can only think of Destruction or Kreator penning such rhythms.
There is some references to Irish myhtology like in the song "Fes Mor Tir Na N'og", and anybody who is slightly interested in folklore or mystical myhology, could do well revising the content of this album. For those of you who prefer much more emphasis of delivery on the actual music, and not the lyrics, then this album is still brilliant and there is no stopping for folkish interludes or that kind of thing. "Apzu" is a polverizing opener, and never lets up in it's lengthy entirety. There are some organic female vocals, which seem quite lush in contrast to the raw and vigorous music these guys play. "The coming of war" matches the previous said track for epic and yet savage intensity, but being shorter and more compact probably fairs a bit better, if you've only listened to it a couple of times. In fact the entire album is pretty much a endless serving of some ugly black metal, only stopping for the short instrumental: "Our lust for lunar landscapes." In fact that track has a kind of power feel to it, reminds me a little of Stratovarius or something similar. Two of the musicians are listed as playing lead guitar, but there aren't any real solos on here. People remember I'm oldschool, to me lead playing is a whole other world from complex rhythm playing. But solos aren't really missed here, and besides there are many other great elements to keep this album a fulfilling listen. This is one of the finest black metal releases out there, and even all these years on I have to remind myself these guys are American.
Absu’s second album is superior to its first one in every aspect. Here the band has evolved and created a sound of its own. This album is a landmark record in the Black/Thrash genre. While the genre they started with was already ambitious enough if you consider the fact that they are from the United States, and not Norway, it just wasn’t that new for the overall global metal scene. Also, the production wasn’t right.
Now I’m not saying that the first album was terrible, but the fact is that it doesn’t hold candlelight in front of this mighty release.
A lot of credit for this impregnable offering should go to the drummer. He is not human. He can add breath taking fills and rolls within a flash. You won’t see them coming, you won’t know when they came, and your ears won’t believe what they just heard. He’s doing things so effortlessly it almost looks like he’s bored and therefore does a little thing of his own whenever he “gets the time”. Speed merely being the focus of black metal, it does not allow the drummer to experiment much. Who knows how many great drummers are hidden behind the curtain? Well, I can tell you this guy definitely isn’t.
Probably in a need to keep up with the drummer, almost all the riffs are tremolo picked. The good thing is that they neither sound bland, nor repetitive. The rhythm guitars perform consistently without pauses or show-offs. The vocals couldn’t be better. Raspy chill shrieks as their very best.
The overall sound and mixing is perfectly balanced. While the musicians are simply going insane the producer is making sure that all instruments count. The medieval atmosphere has been captured perfectly as well. The thrash part of “Black/Thrash” is very much present as can be noticed by the 80s intensity displayed by the musicians.
This record has surpassed most black metal feats achieved by the famous Norwegian bands you started the genre with, and it is as enjoyable and aggressive as their best releases. A thrilling experience is something I can guarantee.
One of Absu earlier albums happens to be one of their best. For reasons similar to the reasons why The Third Storm of Cythraul is overlooked The Sun of Tiphareth also suffers through. The huge success of a very well done album, Tara, makes people think there is no Absu before said album. Well Absu was alive and kicking well before Tara in 2001. In fact Absu was bashing your face in with blackened thrash riffs that had held the same feel as such great energy filled 80’s thrash acts had like Sodom and Kreator. The Sun of Tiphareth is filled with energy, intensity, old style influenced thrash riffs fused with black metal atmospheres and themes, and straight forward head banging and skull crushing metal fun.
This album does what a metal album should do, deliver consistent non stop metal in a style that is ever present. The Sun of Tiphareth combines two of the best styles of metal, Black and Thrash. Certain songs like Cyntefyn’s Fountain are laid out in a thrash style that more or less have a straight forward thrash style riff that is on the darker sounding side. Its pounding, aggressive, and relentless. The band brings the song and its representative style for songs on the album out of just straight thrash by adding different elements to the song. Such as light sounding keyboards that simply add to the flow, atmosphere and consistency of the song that give it a black metal touch. They are never overused to the point where you can even distinguish them as a lead instrument (except in a divider track that is its own song). The guitar riff always carries the songs on this album. They can range from slow and technical, to fast and pounding. Songs like The Coming Of War have a fast and aggressive guitar riff that builds up into harsh vocals that deliver the dark lyrics. While not afraid to slow down their style Absu also brings the riff down a bit to match a slow pounding war style drum to add power to the song. The Sun of Tiphareth will and does do most anything to their songs to add depth, power, and aggression.
The vocals on this album are for the most part a combination of harsh thrash vocals and screeching black metal vocals. Occasionally they will come to a high pitch to accentuate the end of a lyrical phrase or at the end of a harsh scream to harbor in transition. They are also dead on and are quite audible. Which is nice since they remain to be audible and understandable while still being harsh and aggressive. They never once sound gargled or too deep. Good quality medium to high pitched aggressive, harsh, and blackened style vocals.
The Sun of Tiphareth is a great early album for Absu. Featuring some straight forward thrash/black metal songs done in a unique style as well as having some songs with great depth and diversity, changing speeds, styles, instruments (acoustic for example), and tempo/intensity. This album is sure to make a thrash or black metal fan head bang for it has some great aggressive riffs. The drums are always there to give a loud presence and lend aid to the main focus of the riffs, giving them power. This album doesn’t feature any delayed satisfaction through close listening. You won’t be amazed by technical speed, skill, or structure, that is what masturbation metal is for. This is thrash and black metal fused at their finest. For the head bangers and those who like good damn riff based thrash and black metal inspired by 80‘s bands like Venom and Sodom. Pussies need not apply. This album could have been a bit more aggressive and I felt that it failed to reach a few high points, like it was holding itself back.
Really, the difference between Absu's debut and this album is astounding. Barathrum VITRIOL was really nothing more than a weak attempt to copy Darkthrone's earlier material with a touch of extra thrash and synth elements. However, The Sun Of Tiphareth saw Absu moving swiftly and confidently into their own unique style, purging the dullness and cheese of the previous album and replacing it with a massive dose of thrash violence and an even bigger dose of epic. In fact, this stands out from the rest of their catalogue mainly due to said epic nature. The album has a sweeping, panoramic quality which was traded in for a more directly savage attack on The Third Storm Of Cythraul and Tara - both excellent in their own right, but still overshadowed by this one.
For once, the production is entirely perfect. The mix is perfectly balanced, everything in it's correct place. Proscriptor's drumming here is generally slower, a pounding backbone replete with plenty of mind-blowing double bass work, while the guitars and bass sound crushingly heavy. The songwriting moves everything along with liquid momentum, throwing in female vocals (both operatic and spoken) and atmospheric synths occasionally - just at the right moments, such as the sudden breakdown in the 11-minute epic opener "Apzu" and the martial interlude in "A Quest Into The 77th Novel".
There's literally no filler here. Even the instrumental interlude "Our Lust For Lunar Plains" acts as a fitting lead-in for the savagery of "The Coming Of War'. The ending title track, meanwhile, is a more straightforward assault, featuring some abusive quasi-drum-solo sections and a massively strangulating chorus. I seriously cannot stress how excellent this disc is - it's replay value is immense, with new sonic qualities revealing themselves on each listen. Absu ist krieg!
The Sun of Tiphareth, my first album by these occult American black/thrashers, and i've since been enthralled by all their albums. But, The Sun of Tiphareth remains their most experimental and mystical album yet.
Everything is top notch, from the opening melodic riff in Apzu, you know this is going to be good. This song took me a while to get into; like the entire album. It doesn't really sit still for any amount of time till it reaches 4:35, and it's headbanging time. The production is perfect, Proscriptors serpent vocals have never sounded better. His drumming isn't overly fast, but still quite technical and as always he uses plenty of interesting fills which never grow old. The sparse use of keyboards throughout the album enhance that 'magikal' feeling Absu manages to give off with this album. The guitars are perfect, not too melodic, with some interesting lead work. My only complaint here is the annoying use of female vocals. Especially in A Quest for the 77th Novel, which would otherwise be a great track. I was also pleased they discontinued to use Shaftiels vocals on the masterpiece that is 'Tara', because Proscriptor has always been far superior, and here, Shaftiels vocals can somewhat let down the songs he is predominant on. This is an excellent release, recommened to all fans of metal.