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Alone, Abbath enters the breach once more - 75%

HeavyMetalMeltdownReviews, November 1st, 2017
Written based on this version: 2016, CD, Season of Mist (Digipak)

Abbath is a black metal legend who needs no introduction, he forged his name with the Norwegian band Immortal. Immortal unfortunately split in 2015, but Abbath unperturbed announced that he would continue playing as a solo artist and in a squabble of playground standards, Immortal decided that they would continue without Abbath. This split, reformation and split once more into two camps has obviously caused some issues, the main big one being over the legality of the Immortal name.

So now in 2016 Abbath has bitten first in a vain attempt to get one over on his former band mates by releasing his eponymous solo album. With his self-titled album, Abbath sticks to what he knows and does best, it certainly isn’t a million miles away from the past releases by his former band. Along with his uniquely distinctive voice, Abbath continues the trend of the later Immortal albums by taking on the guitar duties as well as being joined by King and Creature to form the rhythm section. To do a true black metal album correctly, you have to get that production just right and with ‘Abbath’, Dag Erik Nygaard and Daniel Bergstrand have engineered a wall of sound in the true black metal style with a mass of distortion swamping everything in its path. This production allows the guitar of Abbath to swing wildly forward, sawing through the mix and when this is accompanied by King’s bone rattling bass and the relentless, technical drumming of Creature, it is no wonder why Creature is renowned on the drum tech and session musician circuit. When combined with the primal growl of Abbath, it only adds the icing on cake and as that growl stalks from the speakers, it suddenly reminds you of what made that initial Immortal sound in the heady days of the early 90’s.

As with any solo album, it is more than fine to be dubious with so many musicians releasing mediocre and sub-par solo albums featuring friends and guests. Thankfully, ‘Abbath’ doesn’t fall into this category and gives you a sense that Abbath is once more having fun, he hasn’t sounded this fresh and excited in over 20 years. The rejuvenated Abbath opens his gambit with the commanding ‘To War!’ coupled with an exceptionally catchy chorus, Abbath rips through the almost prophetic opener, coming to the realisation that he is back in the trenches where he once started.

However, it is the lead single of ‘Winterbane’ where Abbath shows his pedigree, he no longer needs the Immortal name to show that he is capable of creating a decent track. The follow up single to ‘Winterbane’ is the sublime ‘Count the Dead’. One of the peaks of ‘Abbath’, ‘Count the Dead’ contains a guitar solo which tears the album wide open, the skill that goes into that short space of time takes a mediocre song and transforms it into one of the best on the album.

Clocking in at 41 minutes, ‘Abbath’ will have you nodding your head to the beat all the way through and before you realise it, you understand that this album is quite relentless and it never lets up with ‘Abbath’ pushing forward with ‘Ashes of the Damned’, ‘Fenrir Hunts’, ‘Root of the Mountain’ and unlike a lot of his heavy metal peers, it is great to see Abbath sticking to what he knows. Abbath doesn’t need to ‘try something different’ or have to use the phrase ‘it was just a phase I was going through’, if you know Abbath, you know what you’re getting and that is certainly not a bad thing.

Abbath doesn’t need to stray from what he knows and this album is a great first effort as a solo artist. Once more, Abbath has shown that he is totally capable of releasing a decent black metal album full of great songs. However, if ‘Abbath’ proves anything, it is that he doesn’t need the Immortal name to sell records.