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Difficult album to review - 73%

DMhead777, March 2nd, 2020
Written based on this version: 2009, CD, Candlelight Records

My past with Absu is only this album. I bought it in the early 2010s, but recently took a few days to sit down and give my thoughts on it. I know that this was sort of a comeback album for Absu, but none of that really matters in this review because I'm taking it as face value. I went in only hearing "Amy" in my youth. It's one of the catcher songs and younger me loved the groove and simplicity. It's nice remembering the songs I grew up with because I can look back and see how much my taste evolved. When I sat down to listen to this, a bit of nostalgia hit me even though I was never a huge fan as a whole. It was all too extreme for me. Now that I am into heavier music I wanted to give it a proper chance.

I quickly realized that this would be a difficult album to review. The lyrics were on another level and throughout the entire run time I had no idea what was being talked about. I read up that this was the beginning of a trilogy of albums where Absu took a different direction lyrically. I'm not sure what they used to talk about, but this was all confusing to me. I'm not going to focus on the lyrics at all though. I feel like the music itself really makes this album stand out. Although, I do give credit to Absu for the complexity. It's not every day that you come across an album that is this set into a story. For those that dig that sort of thing, then you'll love it.

What I really wanted to focus on was the music itself. The instrumentals here are down right fantastic. I was constantly caught off guard due to how the songs changed. You'd have the rhythm going one way and half way through it just changes completely. "Magic(k) Square Cipher" is a good example of this. The song basically has an intro to its own self and is very well done. There is almost two minutes of pure jamming before the lyrics kick in. Also note that this is half way through the album and I'm still getting thrown for a loop. Absu seems to throw away normal song structure and I really enjoy that. "...of the dead" is seven minutes long and is split up into three or four parts. Normally I roll my eyes at long and dramatic tracks like these, but it works here. The complexity of the lyrics and instruments had me hooked despite me not knowing what the hell was going on lyrically. The song "13 Globes" has a solo within its first 15 seconds. This is established after 10 seconds of normal playing and took me by surprise. Characteristics like this made each track truly unique from its predecessor.

If I had any complaints about this album is that the rhythm guitar is a bit bland at times. When I said before that I loved "Amy" growing up, it's quite the opposite now. I feel that this is the weakest song on the album due to how straight forward it is. It's a bit too catchy for the sake of the rest of the album. This rhythm problem is on most tracks and doesn't really pick up until "Sceptre Command". The songs change up frequently within themselves, but I couldn't shake that bland feeling of mediocre rhythm. I don't understand why it stuck out so much here than literally anything else I listen to. Also, the vocals by Proscriptor are fine, but can get a bit repetitive. There isn't much variation in his style of harsh vocals. Twelve tracks of vocals is a lot to get through in this style.

Overall, I enjoyed the album quite a bit. A lot more now than I did eleven years ago. I see what I enjoyed then versus what I appreciate now and it's a polar opposite. This album has amazing guitar work that it completely forgives the complex lyrics. I don't take anything away from that because there are people that eat up this fantasy stuff, but it just didn't hold my interest. "Absu" really did make me want to listen to their back catalogue and sequel albums. During this time black metal was dominated by edgy lyrics. It makes "Absu" stand out among the others.

Recs: "13 Globes", "...of the Dead", "Magic(k) Square Cipher", "Girra's Temple", "Those of the Void Will Re-Enter", and "Sceptre Command"

Absulution - 79%

Hellbent, January 27th, 2020
Written based on this version: 2009, CD, Candlelight Records

After 8 years, a brief hiatus, and a label move to Candlelight, Absu finally followed up their high watermark Tara in 2009, commencing what is still due to be the first in a second trilogy of albums. This quasi-eponymously titled series (Absu, Abzu, Apsu) is as-yet incomplete, but Absu is a fine start. It is worth noting that even before the listener opens the CD case, the splendid Kris Verwimp artwork bewitches with its spectacular imagery, and this sets the tone wonderfully for the music found within.

After such a long period of inactivity, it is not surprising that Absu’s sound has evolved once again, and in many respects, Absu forges a twisting, turning path almost equidistant from the Scandinavian-influenced black metal sounds of their early career, and the more death metal stylings of Tara. Although ‘Between The Absu Of Eridu & Erech’ retains the constant tempo changes, and off-kilter technical riffing style that the band are known for, the ubiquitous use of minor key tremolo blast sections throughout the thirteen tracks that comprise Absu place their sound firmly in the black metal realm this time round. The occasional folky melodies and Celtic feel of Tara is also conspicuous by its absence, and the lyrical focus, possibly inspired by Proscriptor’s tenure in Melechesh, is predominantly on Sumerian mythology, befitting the title of the album.

Not unusually for Absu, or in fairness almost any good band that falls just short of greatness, the album is very much front-loaded. The opener’s astute use of melody manages to convey an epic feel despite it’s relatively brief length, and is embellished by Proscriptor’s outstanding drumming, particularly the complex snare work that enlivens the track. The syncopated Slayer-like thrash of ‘Night Fire Canonization’ is almost reminiscent of Volcano-era Satyricon, and after the strangely novelty feel to the oddly bluesy riff that bookends ‘Amy’, the stately chord progression of the main section of the song, together with an unusually tasteful guitar solo develops a classic metal approach to songwriting hinted at on the previous album which really suits their sound.

After such a stellar and memorable opening section, the remainder of the slightly overlong Absu is inconsistent. Although the Akercocke-style chromatic riffing of ’13 Globes’ is intriguing and proves that Absu have paid some attention to some of the extreme metal released during their protracted absence, the song overall is aimless. We have to wait until the multi-part epic ‘…Of The Dead Who Never Rest In Their Tombs Are The Attendance Of Familiar Spirits…’ before the album reaches such heights again. As so often is the case with Absu, it is when they add a little variation to their core sound that they really soar. Combining furious demonic black metal with a waltzing bridge containing a violin solo verging on klezmer, and culminating in an eerie 70s synth workout that evokes a deserted fairgound setting, ‘…Of The Dead…’ is a wholly successful experiment that holds the listener’s attention throughout.

The middle-Eastern modal melodies of ‘Magic(k) Square Cipher’, and the soothing acoustic mid-section of ‘Those Of The Void Will Re-Enter’ which provides a pause for breath and reflection are both highlights of the latter half of the album, and things finish on a high note with the superb ‘Twix Yesterday, The Day & The Morrow’. The close stands out courtesy of a discordant intro which returns as the chorus riff later in the track, and again makes an impression by being just different enough from the majority of what precedes it.

Absu is a superbly well-crafted and very competently played album of thrashing black metal. Instantly recognisable as Absu, despite the evolution of their Tara sound, the dry but punchy production is well-matched to the style. In many ways, this album is their most consistent to date, but it audibly lacks some of the vicious fervour of its predecessor, sounding a little too safe at times. Consequently, although its floor is somewhat higher in quality than Tara, its ceiling is lower. The dizzying tempo and riff changes are initially exhilarating, but ultimately fatiguing, and one can’t help but feel that allowing some of the better riffs and grooves to breathe a little more, together with a bolder approach to sonic experimentation would benefit Absu hugely, and possibly add the magic that would elevate this record to above the good, but not quite great level that it attains.

First published here:

Diversified, dynamic and emotional extreme metal - 85%

kluseba, October 7th, 2011

On this eponymous record after a eight year long break, Absu are back with a bang and play a quite addicting and original mixture of melodic death and black metal with a lot of thrash influences and some great progressive sounds. This is diversified and emotional extreme metal as it should always be and even fans of softer genres could get a good approach to this stunning comeback with the addicting cover artwork and interesting mythological and historic lyrics.

The album has a great flow and many energizing bangers like the short neck breaker "Night Fire Canonization" that fully convinces after a mixed and not very well chosen opener. That said, there are still a few too many short and sweet head bangers on the record like the mediocre "Magic(k) Square Cipher". In the end, there are also a few too many songs on the record. Especially the last two ones and a few in the middle of the record are bearable and the band should have focused on fewer tracks with more potential.

As almost all bands, the band convinces most to me when they sound more experimental and progressive. Let me point out three good examples, the first one being "Thirteen Globes" with its bell chimes and a very hypnotizing progressive fade out. The following seven minute epic with the beautiful name "...Of The Dead Who Never Rest In Their Tombs Are The Attendance Of Familiar Spirits..." is even greater and filled with stunning melodic guitar solos, many breaks and surprising passages and a very atmospheric ending filled with creepy sound samples. When I talk about guitar solos, I must mention the best one on this record featured on the otherwise only good but not quite amazing "In The Name Of Auebothiabathabaithobeuee". Another true highlight comes along with "Those Of The Void Will Re-Enter", one of the most harmony filled and atmospheric epic tracks on the record even though there are still some pitiless thrashing passages amongst great piano interludes within the song. These songs are filled with interesting details and request multiple tries and will end by growing on you.

Even though there are a few too many repeating structures and flaws within this record, I really enjoy the surprisingly addicting energy, flow and atmosphere of this record. Once the album was over I felt to listen to it again and again and it ultimately really grew on me despite its little mistakes. There is no doubt that Absu are amongst the greatest extreme metal bands in the world and this album is a tasty, diversified and satisfying example. I didn't know much about the band and was just curious to check it out but I will surely try out their other albums quite soon and hope to see this energizing band live one day, too.

Absu - Absu - 80%

ThrashManiacAYD, August 27th, 2009

Rarely have I been so keen to say 'Welcome back!' to a band as I am for mighty American black/thrashers Absu, who after 8 long years in which they never formally split have finally released a follow-up to what is in my mind simply one of the greatest extreme metal albums of all time - "Tara". Their new, self-titled, album has quite a pedigree to follow and if it doesn't turn out to be the equal of "Tara", well then Absu can hardly claim they didn't spend long enough working on it.

The band haven't spent the preceding years sat on their arses smoking a proverbial fat one (Axl Rose) as vocalist/mainman/drumming extraordinaire Proscriptor McGovern found himself without any bandmates following the 2002 departures of long-serving guitarist and bassist Shaftiel and Equitant Ifernain, on top of his involvement with Melechesh (among others). With a new band formed ready to take on the hyper-speed riff machine of Absu and 13 new songs penned the end result is the grandiose, spectacular "Absu".

Of course there are other extreme metal bands who do the technical aspect well and procifiently, but none do it quite like Absu. Proscriptor hammers out intense speeds and rhythms of the kind one would assume a 4-armed monster was behind the kit, and whatever guitarist line-up the band holds they damn well need to flex their fingers to meet some of the fastest, flashiest and most explosive riffs in the world of metal. Not surprisingly the sense of all out chaos that was "Tara", both in guitars and drums, has been reined in a little for an increased psychedelic influence and dare we say it, slower approach to song making. Needless to say, slow in comparison to many passages of "Tara" could still represent the 2nd fastest metal album ever but the impenetrable riffing in the likes of "Sceptre Command", "Amy" and "Those Of The Void Will Re-Enter" represent a reduced significance on an all-out explosion of technical prowess with songs of various speeds ("Ye Uttuku Spells", "Of The Dead Who Never Rest In Their Tombs Are The Attendance Of Familiar Spirits...") becoming more the Absu norm. However when the pedal is pushed Absu maintain impervious control of their machines: the majestic bridging and atmospheric creation found in "Magic(K) Square Cipher" and probably the greatest opening riff you will ever hear in "Amy" simply put Absu on a different plain from most other bands. Words utterly fail to explain the magnificence of the soaring, lead riffs in "Amy".

The strong Celtic theme of previous Absu works has also been honed back on this outing, to be replaced by "Sumerian-based occult themes of magick and mythology" as described by Proscriptor himself. The result being some rather questionable song titles ("In The Name Of Auebothiabathabaithobeuee" and "Nunbarshegunu" anyone?) but also the absence of the bagpipes which worked so well in book-ending "Tara", to be replaced by increased psychedelia and experimentation ("Of The Dead..."). "Absu", with the exclusion of "Amy" may ultimately be missing the likes of "Pillars Of Mercy" and "Manannán" that made "Tara" so perfect, but is a mighty record in itself, one which unearths new directions and twists on each listen and will do good in enticing another legion of fans to the cult of the Absu.

Originally written for

Perserverance and Discipline Pay off in Euphony - 85%

Magruligox, June 27th, 2009

I’ve been waiting a long time to welcome Absu back. With so much campy and/or tired thrash coming out these days, it's a pleasure to note that there’s no laziness loitering shame-facedly in the guise of “regression” on Absu's new crop of visionary nightmare music. And, this is still the band that deigns to sing about candles and tea leaves while doing such disciplined violence with their instruments that one immediately apprehends the warrior ancestry in the player’s veins, reconciling so many of life’s timely contradictions. On the other hand, some idiosyncratic character traits have given way in the band’s movement towards a more generalized, iconic form of metal.

In the ‘meat and potatoes’ of Absu’s song catalogue, a lot of the riffs are similarly phrased, in the same scale (Phrygian I think? I don’t know, I ain’t kno psychiatrist), and sound pretty much the same. This probably alienates some people. But as an earlier reviewer mentioned, Absu’s classic style of riff-sequencing created a certain fluidity of motion, and often culminated in incredibly moving, simple melodies, propped up by context. Diplomatically put, the new guitarists have outstanding technique but more conventional style, and I can understand them having neither the desire nor the ability to ape their predecessor’s quirks in a convincing fashion. This album reminds me a little of Emperor’s move towards a more general metal on “IX: Equilibrium,” with an influx of rhythmic patterns recalling Morbid Angel. Licks here and there remind me of Dissection, and on the whole it reminds me of what it would be like if Cradle of Filth was really awesome. If this were 1998 and I was 14 years old reading some rave review of COF in Terrorizer for the first time (and feeling really optimistic), this is how it’d sound in my imagination. An acceleration/brutalization of traditional thrash but more ambitious, with the dissonance and appropriated Maiden-isms of conventional black metal, all subjected to an overflow of silver-tongued lyrics and killer blastbeats. And the keyboard embellishments are perfect imo, tonally balanced and zany and suggestive of infinite depths.

This is the best production the band’s ever had. The ultra-listenable clarity makes “Absu” engrossing over the course of repeated listens, its articulated complexity giving way to greater and greater depth. Unfortunately, it’s also ruined an Absu trademark that used to delight me: The weird, distorted timbre of Proscriptor’s drums. It used to sound like he was hitting a bunch of pieces of fucking metal! Which he was, obviously, but the piercingly metallic sound of his kit used to really evoke the clattering of a mangy iron-laden chariot. It sounds good but modern-professional now, a change that accompanies his new approach to drumming. The fills are toned down and the ‘pulse’ of the beast more consistent, perhaps more useful as structural support for the band’s newfound variety of guitar-textures. It takes a wild-man to play such fast and physically intensive music, but the reins are pulled much tighter now, and this is probably going to be a good thing in the long run.

Also, in my opinion this album has some of Proscriptor's most genuinely poetic lyrics yet, in the conventional sense. I say that without considering any esoteric occult meaning they may have. Some of the lyrics are even more confusing and non-communicative to the average reader than ever before, but's somewhat pointless examining the intensely personal pronouncements of a magickal practitioner for texture and consistency.

I saw Absu last weekend, and while the entire set was impressive, it was the material from “Sun of Tiphareth” and “Third Storm of Cythraul” that jumped out the most. It’s going to be a pleasant process of discovery when the touring winds down and the abundant resourcefulness of this lineup is turned upon the task of writing a new album. Let me add that coincident with the barrage of world-class martial speed picking, one finds surprising blooms of open-sounding resonant chords that recall new Enslaved; yet even peak Enslaved never bared teeth and showed the guns so convincingly. That and the song “Amy,” one of the last additions to “Absu,” opens with a riff that sounds like it ought to be on King Diamond’s “Abigail” album. So fucking cool to hear in an Absu song. We await the new with eager anticipation, guys!

Auebothiabathabaithoboothableegabongabootybobeuee! - 93%

Artemus_Cain, June 14th, 2009

Absu are a legendary band playing thrashy black metal from Texas. This music on first listen comes to me comes of a cross between Slayer, Possessed, Mayhem, and 1349. When a band crushes together my favorite bands I immediately want to take notice, because it will most probably be a masterpiece or spew leperous pus. Luckilly this album is perfect… mostly.

Every single song is a great mashup between old-school thrash (especially the first three Slayer albums) and the masterpieces of the old and new black metal bands. It’s fast, intense and the drumming is some of the best I’ve heard in my life. I heard drummer Proscriptor tried out for Slayer and would’ve got it if Lombardo didn’t rejoin. If he did get the gig Christ Illusion would’ve been better probably.

Onto the lyrics… okay I’ll be honest I don’t have much to say about them, because I didn’t pay them no mind. The vocals are killer and impressive that Procsriptor can drum like a centurion from hell and make one of the more impressive black metal rasps in recent memory. I believe in Magick, but most of these lyrics take a left turn at WTF St. and Huh Cir. Absu must have graduated from, or created, the Nile school of long ass titles with (deepbreath) “Of The Dead Who Never Rest In Their Tombs Are The Attendance Of Familiar Spirits...(pantpant, deepbreath) Including: A.) Diversified Signs Inscribed B.) Our Earth of Black C.) Voor” and “In The Name Of Auebothiabathabethaboothabookableegabaithobeuee.” If I can barley make heads or tails of the fucking titles than what chance do I have at decoding the lyrics.

I guess I did have a lot to say on the lyrics.

Anyway the only criticism is one I’ve seen a lot in extreme metal since its inception in the 80’s. There’s almost no variation in pace except from the promotion from blisteringly fast to “Why haven’t the picking hands snapped off at the wrist?” most songs blur together and the bands determination to stay in the realm of black/thrash gives no song a distinct identity. The only songs I that really stuck after me after the first listen are “The Absu of Eridu and his Retarded Younger Brother,” “In The Name Of AuebothiabathabaithoputHowardStern'spenisinthehorsesvaginabeuee” and “Amy.” And the song with the longest title has a ambient passage that really doesn't fit and drags the song on way to long.

But after repeated listening, the riffs are catchy and fun; making me label this another masterpiece early in this year giving me hopes that 2009 will be an improvement on 2008. But this leaves me one nagging thought. Everyone else says “Tara” is better than this self titled opus. This makes me think, “If this album was pressed out of angel blood and liquid awesome, what will Tara be like when I finally listen to it? Will the pagan goddesses appear from the spirit world, have sex with me, than give me a pet succubus?”

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).

A different Absu - 83%

Omnivore, March 22nd, 2009

When I heard Absu were in the process of recording their first album in 8 years, I was stoked: this meant the return of the merciless Proscriptor and his pounding drumming as well as his violent vocals. But I was also saddened by the fact that two core members, Shaftiel and Equitant, had left the band, which meant a complete change of sound, even if good old Proscriptor was behind the cans on this one.

Absu have, throughout their discography, stayed true to their blackened thrash metal origins and delivered fine material along the years. With their distinctively thrashy sound and esoteric lyricism they had set themselves apart from the crowded black metal scene and made a name for theirselves. In 2001, they released their greatest album yet, “Tara”, which in my opinion is the greatest blackened thrash release ever, delivering energetic and ferocious drumming with lacerating monotonous riffs.

After a few years, “Girra's Temple” suddenly pops up. Upon my first listening I went completely crazy whilst speculating about the next records quality. That was Proscriptor alright, but something in the riffing had changed, which is obviously due to Shaftiel's departure and the recruital of Aethyris McKay, who is a fine musician but sounds much more different. Kay

I finally got my hands on a copy of “Absu” a day ago, and I was more excited for it than a dog for some wholesome meat. My reaction at the first listening was quite mixed.

At first I was surprised and overjoyed by the return of the might Proscriptor and the improvement he had undertaken over years with his drumming heard on such songs as “Girra's Temple” and “13 Globes” which is now more controlled though more technical and his vocals which sound like genuine shrieks rather than goblin eeks heard on “Tara”.
The production was also of great quality, pushing every instrument forward and giving to the album a modern feeling, which was a change compared to their early recordings.
The lyrics here deal more on ancient Middle-East mythology, which is breath of fresh air from the trilogy of “The Sun of Tiphareth/The Third Storm of Cythraul/Tara” exclusively based on Celtic mythology.

Secondly, I was somehow disappointed at the song structures and riffing showcased here. It seems that over the course of these 8 years, Proscriptor has inhibited a great deal of a progressive rock influence: the songs are longer and more elaborate than on “Tara”, opting for unsubtle transitions in tempo and tone. The riffing is deceivingly different than on “Tara”: gone are the monotonous riffs which used the open string as an omnipresent frequency to lay down the play on the octaves creating an epic sound, here we can clearly hear riffs that change with little ease over the course of the songs. Some songs even sound like they were pieces put together (like on “Ye Uttuku Spells” that starts on good but gets annoying after a while due to the repetition of unsubtle transitions) rather than on “Tara” where the songs flowed effortlessly and fluidly together.

Finally, “Absu” sounds like a scrambled effort to record material: most songs sound pieced together which ruins the flow of the album. But of course, we couldn't ask for a second “Tara”. What was done on that album could have only been done once, not twice, and so “Absu” is the answer: a thrash/black metal album laced with progressive influences and an atmosphere wholy different from the previous album. I still think Proscriptor and the guys could've done ,much better.

Revenge of the Highland Tyrants - 95%

RedMisanthrope, February 17th, 2009

I haven't even been into metal for eight years, and have been a fan of Absu for less than a year, so I'm not going to go on about long I've been waiting for the return of the maestros of of Mythological Occult Metal and their unique black/thrash blend of music. After an almost complete line up change, a snapped wrist, Slayer try outs, and other set backs that kept Absu from clawing out of its coffin, the million dollar question remains. Is this any good? You may rest assured fellow metalhead, though Proscriptor may be commanding a new army, the aural attack these Celtic stormtroopers manage to dish out is no less effective, satisfying, or devastating.

If you go into this album expecting "Tara Part Deux", you will be disappointed. In fact this album has more in common with "The Third Storm of Cythraul" than its predecessor. Lets face it, "Tara" is maybe the pique of Absu's extremity, being an absolute explosion of riffs, drum fills, and ghastly spells the band had kept tame for so long. So what else could they do to follow this up? Pull back on the reigns just a bit. The result is "Absu", a more cohesive, detail oriented album with more attention to song structure, and less to technicality. Proscriptor's drumming is far more strategic with more structured patterns and even cleaner blasts. He rarely resorts to outright bombarding his kit, although I will admit it's pretty awesome when he does, as seen on the mighty "Spectre Command" or "Girra's Temple". You'd think that after going eight years without barking orders or chanting destruction spells that Proscriptor's voice may not be up to par, but you'd be wrong of course. He's actually returned better than ever, just a bit deeper, and with a black metal hiss that's even more venomous sounding. Really, this is probably his best vocal performance, adding a lot of power to the songs and even make them sound more convincing, as on "Night Fire Canonization" ("So we shall finish them/And we shall burn them/And we will destroy them too/Under night fire!"), and I guarantee you will be chanting "Ah-ni_hi_laaaate!" by the end of "Ye Uttuku Spells". Unfortunately, his falsetto is nowhere to be heard on this offering. Maybe next time? The lyrics are also, as always, interesting. Not out of this world, or poetic, but they're still very good. Absu seem to have taken a back seat to writing about Sumerian and Celtic culture in order to pay homage to those maligning, faceless entities that haunt the dreams of Mesopotamian and Lovecraft affidacio alike, "The Ancient Ones". However, they do lean towards their old roots a few times by prophesying the destruction of some hapless, nameless army. Not that we would mind that so much.

One of the biggest complaints I've had against Absu was that a lot of the time, the guitars just lacked that "oomph" I was looking for. Don't get me wrong, Shaftiel is an awesome guitarist, and he has some great riffs to his name, but as far as pitch and tone went, there was just a little more that I personally was looking for. With the coming of this album, this minor complaint is on its way to being resolved. The guitars make their presence known far more often, and there are some really fantastic riffs to be had here. The build up on "Magic(k) Square Cipher" is just flat out awesome, and "Girra's Temple" show that they haven't completely fell out of love with thrash metal. These elements, combined with Proscriptor's drumming, compliment each other perfectly, creating a couple of future classics. Newcomers Aethyris MacKay and Zawicizuz draw fresh blood into the circle of Absu, and show that while they may be new, the fact that they will soon become an integral part of future Absu spells is undeniable. Hell, even the solos are sounding better, and unlike most solos, actually proceed to move the songs forward, instead of just being their for the hell of it.

One song that's likely to cause a stir is "Of the Dead Who Never Rest...", with a spacey little keyboard number that sounds like an evil carnival being transported to another dimension, with a drop or two of acid for good measure. I for one think it's great, and it's good to see that by moving back just a few steps with this album, they are able to move a few steps forward in other areas. They haven't let the idea of progression go to their heads, for the keys make only a few appearances and add real flavor, ironically leading to some of Absu's most "occult" sounding moments like on "Between the Absu of Eridu & Erech", amongst others.

So, do I like this album more than "Tara"? Right now, no, but ask me again tomorrow, and I very well could give you a different answer. This album proves that a band doesn't have to keep getting more and more extreme to keep putting out quality albums. Nor do they have to pocket themselves into one sound and keep utilizing it over and over again. "Absu" shows that a band can release a really fucking awesome record, and indirectly match it by unleashing more strategic songs, that while a bit softer around the edges, showcase a mature sound that many bands can only dream of. "Absu" truly stands alone in the band's discography, and I wouldn't be worried if this is the stepping stone into a new direction. You can keep holding your breath for another "Tara", but those years have long passed, and I think I hear a new age drawing for one of America's best extreme metal acts.

All hail the return of the Highland Tyrants!

Yeah, this isn't good - 41%

Vaibhavjain, February 17th, 2009

Absu have been a pillar in the black\thrash genre because of their consistently good releases and their ability to redefine the genre with new release. They had created a legacy few bands had the audacity to dream of and even fewer achieved. So, when they band had a “comeback” after a hiatus of 8 years it obviously made the headlines and became THE release to be waiting for in 2009. The wait was short pretty short though, with the album leaking 2 weeks prior it was officially revealed to the public. I have never been a fan of “comeback” albums and with Proscriptor being the sole member from early-Absu along with new and relatively unknown faces my expectations of a good record were low and that of a legacy being killed, high.

These times the band has added a lot of flowing melodies and have evolved from black\thrash outfit to a melodic black\thrash one. It is still obsessed with ancient Egyptian and Sumerian music and definitive elements are seen here scattered throughout the album. The vocals aren’t the usual Black Metal shriek though; it is more of a throaty and clear version of the usual shriek. The guitar work, handled by the new comers Aethyris MacKay and Zawicizuz is a mixed bag though. There are lots of riffs, with a lot of variety in them but none of them imprint themselves into the listener’s brain. They are simple riffs, variations of which have been used by a hundred different thrash bands already. The soloing is a different aspect altogether though. They are wonderfully done and equally well executed and are a class apart when it comes to solos in the thrash genre.

The keyboards are superficial and really bring the band down most of the time. The drumming is single handedly the worst thing here. It’s monotonous, tedious and outright annoying. The drum pattern and drum lines are atrociously similar, so atrocious that I can swear that Proscriptor felt so lazy here that he made one annoying drum line for a single track and ever so slightly modified them for each track. It seems as if Proscriptor is desperately trying to get the attention of the listeners and in the end turn out to be an ordeal he won’t be quite proud of in the end which is quite pathetic actually, considering his amazingly proficient work in the earlier Absu albums and the fact that his work on the drums was a yardstick for all other bands the brutality of which they could only hope to match. A perfect example of this can be seen on track number 5, “13 Globes” where his will to get all the attention upon him leads to ruining the guitar solo, the only strong point of this album in there. His vocals aren’t as evil and sinister as they used to be and it can be seen that time has taken its toll on him.

It would have been a better choice and use of time if the band more effort into the music rather than the long and descriptive track titles. Overall, this release is not the comeback of Absu and I don’t think it will ever be possible with this new lineup. The solemnly evil trio of Proscriptor, Shaftiel and Equitant Infernain is the epitome of greatness whose consistency, song writing prowess and utter brutality will forever remain a class apart worthless of the fact that Proscriptor still remains and the current band members’ ability increases manifold. Though none of the members of the legendary line up were that great individually, they gelled together well and complemented on each other’s lacks and weaknesses and thus united became a relentless force. With the return of the original members back to the band not in sight I can safely assume that Absu is dead. The very soul of the band has been shot in the head from pointblank range. Sadly, the band is alive and believe me, I would have been happier if the band died instead. The legacy of the band has been ruined by Proscriptor’s choice to continue making music under the Absu name with new members.

Recommended Listening: - Girra's Temple.

Return of the Cythraul Klan - 93%

eerie_noctular, February 17th, 2009

So here we are 8 years after "Tara". Is it even possible for this band to top what they accomplished with Tara? Really, why would they want to? Many people wondered if they could even continue with the loss of Shaftiel (despite some lyrical/musical credit) and Equitant. And yes, some of the riff schizhoid thrashing insanity and insane speed is missing (think of this album as going 90mph instead of 120mph like "Tara" did - its still fast, but it seems slow compared to going 120 mph), but overall, this is a great fucking album.

One thing I was a bit concerned about was Proscriptor turning this album into essentially a 60 minute drum solo, overpowering everything and drowing out all other instruments. Surprisingly he seems in more control here with nothing that really blasts you in the face like "Tara" did (not that thats was a bad thing, of course). He definitely utilizes all his talents here, but never once does it seem over-the-top, although I do miss the fact that there is not one falsetto scream here. Oh well. Also Zawicizuz and Aethyris are fine replacements for Shaftiel and Equitant (Vastator is also credited for some of the work but left before completing the album and for the record Ezezu didn't actually play on this album).

There are more keyboards spiced along the album here and there than "Tara", along the lines of "Third Storm of Cythraul". In fact, the old-school thrashing madness of "Third Storm..." is all over the place here (but with cleaner production), and I'd compare this album more to "Third Storm..." than to "Tara". You can really hear the influences here intensely but it is also 100% uniquely Absu. Lots and lots of twists and turns in the songs and no spots where I thought "this sounds kinda familiar" as I think that was the only thing Tara suffered from slightly (for example, compare listening to "The Cognate House Of Courtly Witches Lies West Of County Meath" and "She Cries The Quiet Lake" as well as "Four Crossed Wands (Spell 181)" and "Vorago (Spell 182)" back to back). I don't get that at all with "Absu" as every song has something different and unique about it.

"Between The Absu Of Eridu & Erech" is a great fucking start with a quick intro then blasting into the chaos that is completely Absu. Even includes a marching breakdown that kicks ass. "...Of The Dead Who Never Rest In Their Tombs Are The Attendance Of Familiar Spirits...", the more epic track on this album chugs on more at a midpace, but with some speed here and there and includes a really tripped out synthesizer outro that brings you back to the 1970s (theres that psychadelic influence Proscriptor mentioned would make an appearance here). "Amy" completely conjures up total fucking 80s thrash. "Those Of The Void Will Re-Enter" is an odd piece that seems to go everywhere from blasting black metal, to ambience synth with acoustic guitars. "Sceptre Command" starts and doesn't stop for five minutes of blasting speed. We end the album with "Ye Uttuku Spells" and "Twix Yesterday, The Day & The Morrow", songs that brings forth some more odd time signatures and start/stop insanity and a rather unique outro track (respectively), fitting for the end of this album. And the guest list on this album is incredible: Ashmedi (Melechesh), Blasphemer (Ex-Mayhem/Ava Inferi), David Harbour (Ex-King Diamond), Michael Harris (Darkology), Mindwalker (The Firstborn), Nornagest (Enthroned), Vorskaath (Zemial) and even Ex-Guitarist/Bassist Equitant makes an appearance. Awesome!

Overall, you can't go wrong with any track here really. As long as you go into this album not expecting a sequel to "Tara", you will not be dissapointed. It's a whole new era for this band, and I hope they do carry on well past this album and create many more. Welcome Back ABSU!

Change in sound - 84%

shantanupatni1991, February 15th, 2009

American Black-thrashers Absu started out way back in 1991 when black metal only existed in Scandinavia. Their first album, Barathrum VITRIOL, was a good but generic black metal record. However, the band took a quantum leap after their debut offering and they haven’t looked back ever since. They gained iconic status following their crowing achievement The Sun of Tiphareth and have already given two more masterpieces since then, The Third Storm of Cythraul, and Tara.

Relentlessly unmatchable & unstoppable speed is the key and core characteristic of this band because of which they today exemplify and epitomize their genre. Their other notable traits include the medieval atmosphere they are able to bring to life, the impressive shrieky vocals and the consistently performing rhythm guitars without any disturbance in terms of flashy riffs or unnecessary show offs.

This is their first album in 8 years and features a completely new line-up Aethyris MacKay, Vastator Terrarum (who left before completing the album but still contributed) and Zawicizuz (who replaced Vastator).

On this record, there are some slight changes. The band is more… “Matured”. Focus on melody, technicality and song construction has increased and the then shreiky vocals are a little throatier. The use of keyboards is noticeably more and the medieval feel has to some extent been replaced by the “avant-garde extreme metal” feel, commonly seen in bands like Mirrorthrone, Arcturus or Dornenreich. We also have more recognizable riffs and a certain amount of soloing as well.

The keyboard overtones during each song are quite catchy and the slower speed enables you to better comprehend songs. Riffs which were earlier almost exclusively tremolo picked are now even present in the form of power chords and leads. Unfortunately, there aren’t any long tracks here except for that 7 minutes one, so you might miss the epic-ness present on The Sun of Tiphareth and The Third Storm of Cythraul.

Don’t let this disappoint you because the reasons why we fell in love with this band in the first place are still valid. This might not be as good as their previous three offerings, but its still praise worthy. As a fan I would prefer the old sound, but if it restricts them when they have so much scope ahead, I support this album and wish to see them entering and capturing more territories.

The band has shown how creative and talented it really is. They hold a lot of potential beyond traditional black metal and this album has given them some freedom to experiment and put more ideas forward.

The longest track, “of the Dead Who Never Rest in Their Tombs Are the Attendance of Familiar Spirits”, is easily the best one. It has everything you can ask for. “In the name of auebothiabaithobeuee” has the best solo I’ve heard on any black metal song ever.