Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2020
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Best viewed
without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
or higher.

Privacy Policy

An "Unspoken King" quagmire, without the pandering - 23%

Ghost_in_the_Machine, March 22nd, 2009

Well, as…uh…“self satisfied” as I am in having my premonitions fulfilled in regards to this album, unfortunately that joy lasted for a few moments until I realized…well…fuck me, now yet another one of my favorite bands has gone awry from the path of grandeur. Yes, the 8 year hiatus is in fact aptly foreboding. Yes, the departure of the primary songwriter has also had a substantial impact. And yes, there is simply no substitute for the skillfully honed chemistry between its founding members. Absu has lost its identity by abandoning its modest yet ample fundamentals and pursuing an approach based purely in aesthetics.

In regards to the overall style they have brought to the table on this album, there’s little left of their black thrash foundation, and a ton of things that scream “melodic death metal” with a few touches of Eastern melodic sensibility. While they’re not as formatted as your Arch Enemies or Dimension Zeros of the lot they show the same dependence on obnoxiously executed flourishes to distinguish what would otherwise be tepid thrash metal.

For instance, the keyboards, as often as they are used, serve no purpose other than to provide support for run of the mill bridges toward other instances of oversaturated ear candy. But what’s truly frightening here is that maybe they anticipated this criticism and went ahead and created a moment where they would be the primary focus of the song, and threw in about a minute of the most fucking obtuse and quaint MIDI baseball organ villainy ever witnessed by mortals (…Of the Dead Who Never…no, you know what, Of the Fucking Living Who Refuse To Type Out This Fucking Inanely Long Song Title For A Song That Is Garbage Any Way). I mean, if this is the true power of Mythological Occult Metal--absolutely ubiquitous levels of assclownery--maybe I should’ve marked their previous albums’ digressions on said matters as more of a forewarning than just a conceptual niche. And yes, Absu have used keyboards before. But on songs like Highland Tyrant Attack it actually builds tension, or on songs like Customs of Tasseomancy it reinforces the theme of esoteric ritual. On this album the keyboards are either vaguely "majestic" or holywhatthefuckamilisteningtodeeppurple?!--with no purpose beyond fulfilling a mistakenly assumed prerequisite or just alienating serious listeners altogether. The Eastern scales are used only in harmonies--there is no pervasive, superfluous integration as in Melechesh’s masterwork Sphynx. They’re used so carelessly they reek of gimmickry. Last but not least, the guitar solos, though generous in technique, are as much of an eye sorer as any of the previously discussed elements. Even though Shaftiel may not have been proficient enough to serve up the Dave Mustaine handmedowns found on this album, his frenetic, chaotic leads (V.I.T.R.I.O.L.) reinforced their songs momentum and themes.

There is also way too much wagered on the guitar riffing as well considering it's above average at best. Riffs are presented in a conventional thrash metal manner and are fully intended to carry the songs. This is one of many problems with the album that demonstrate how this album has nothing in common with Absu. In previous albums the riffing, though not immediately distinct, was intensely manic but still fluid. There is no emphasis of the vocal arrangements (ie classic Absu trade-offs like Mannanan, or riffs that emphasize the meter of the lyrics like Vorago), and furthermore, Proscriptor has either lost his voice or phoned in his performance altogether based on how monotonous it is. He never had the strongest technique mind you, but he had plenty of variation and emphasis. There is no steady flow between verses, bridges, or choruses as in previous albums--riffs are arranged to blatantly highlight a basic rock function of each of these segments, without any power behind them to reinforce their intended function. There are no significant contributions from Proscriptor as a drummer other than filling his basic role. There are no “solos” as in songs like She Cries the Quiet Lake, complimentary flourishes as in Manannan, or insane rhythms as in From Ancient Times. Just fills, standard thrash beats, double bass runs, and subsonic blast beats used in typical fashion.

There are a few moments where, despite the constricted format they have chosen, they manage to execute memorable material--Nightlife Canonization (which features a very focused but varied flow of thrash riffing), Amy (a song that both features orthodox but well delineated songwriting, emphasizing both lyrics and the basic structure), and 13 Globes (a song that combines both focused, flowing thrash riffs, and songwriting that emphasizes the lyrics). But at this point, even a successful execution of their new direction in the level of quality of the aforementioned tracks does little to sway the desire for the perfected chemistry of the founding members. It is made more disappointing by the fact that even though Proscriptor is not a songwriter, he can direct others toward masterful conceptual execution, as he had done on Melechesh’s Sphynx. My hope is that, though not the ideal swansong, the musicians involved here have the foresight to put the entity of Absu to rest…maybe even continuing under another name if they believe it to be necessary (which I do not).