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Fades a bit but still quite strong - 82%

Noktorn, April 19th, 2010

This is actually a bit of a reverse grower; it's not quite as interesting after five or so listens and the overall vibe wears a little bit thin. That being said, it's still a very good album, just not the killer I originally thought it might be. Absolutus plays minimal, riffy black metal in the post-'Transilvanian Hunger' style with a modern depressive edge and a constrained style of melody that brings Sweden's Excessum to mind. In essence, it's precisely the sort of black metal that's up my alley these days: very precise, employing subtle shifts in riff texture to change mood, and generally doing all it can to not feature extraneous, unimportant elements. It's an admirable exercise in restraint and elegance and more bands should follow this one's suit.

The four fairly lengthy tracks which compose 'Ostendit Quam Nihil Sumus' are pure underground black metal: those who are not fans of the genre will find nothing to enjoy here. I think this is the sort of album designed for those who have listened to something like a thousand black metal releases in the past and have learned to appreciate some of the more subtle tropes of the genre. Absolutus' style doesn't really lend itself to being shown off- it's not 'sound byte' black metal if that makes any sense, and a two minute sample of a track is entirely meaningless. Absolutus' long track times are very necessary to the overall character of the music; the sound of this band is defined by a slow evolution of a few simple, looping riffs, the melodic character of which owes a lot to modern Swedish (but not orthodox) black metal and possibly some of the more droning Slavic artists. This is music wholly based off riffs; the drums form a simple ambient backdrop and the vocals are in a place (though more prominent) that is essentially the same, providing simple textural variation while the riffs loop. It's not very exciting music, but that's not to the album's detriment.

Like all albums in this minimal, bleak style, Absolutus' music stands or falls on the strength of its riffs. In this case, they're extremely strong and so the album follows suit: depressive but still hateful and intense, they recall some of Judas Iscariot's most mournful moments tempered by a modern sense of black metal riff construction which streamlines the melodic structures, makes them more organic, and removes a lot of the garage rock and punk which tends to be present in oldschool black metal. Structurally, this music is extremely simple, and that's what really prevents this album from having unlimited replay value: the songs are essentially riff slideshows, super elongated forms of 'Transilvanian Hunger''s ABABCA structure, but the riffs dovetail well enough that it only becomes noticeable after a number of listens and so doesn't vastly effect the character of the music.

While the lack of structural variation does damn this album to being an occasional listen, if you make your plays of this album few and far enough between, you'll get something remarkably stirring every time. This is one of the first occasions where I've been willing to say that an album is very good even though it's a twice a year listen at best: while Absolutus' music is simply too simple to be incredibly enduring, its very classy construction and brilliantly selected aesthetics make it a very powerful, if somewhat ephemeral, listening experience. I can safely recommend this to any fan of minimal, underground black metal: don't expect the world and you'll be very pleasantly surprised.

Great start! - 75%

JonaarS, March 11th, 2006

Absolutus is a new Belgian band (from Liège) with a lot of potential. They play atmospheric, fast Black Metal, in the vein of Satanic Warmaster and old Deathspell Omega. This is their first full length, released on Goatowarex , and I must say: It’s a good one! The four, long, tracks give you 41 minutes of Black Metal in a pure, epic and traditional form. Their lyrics mostly deal about hate. I don’t really have a favourite song; they all have the same atmosphere, the good riffs and the great vocals. This band is as underground as it gets. I haven’t seen any promotion yet and the members aren’t that familiar to the big audience as well. I’ve heard that Absolutus isn’t a great live band, but the sound on the CD is very good and that’s what counts. A great start for this band.

This review is written for http://users.telenet.be/odium/