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Album Reviews : Absu – Abzu

By on January 2, 2012

Absu are a “Mythological Occult Metal” band from Plano, Texas. The band has been ripping apart eardrums since 1991, and their last release, 2009’s Absu, was a rather excellent record, mixing black metal and thrash metal into a smoldering combination, not unlike the brand of metal Skeletonwitch brandishes so fiercely. Absu’s latest release, Abzu doesn’t alter their sound in any significant way, but it has its downsides.

The album kicks off with a ripping thrash riff and a mighty scream, before the Absu vocals their fans know and love kick in; blackened, harsh and furious as always. The pace of the first track, “Earth Ripper”,  is unstoppable as the song tears through riff after riff,  however some of the changes seemed forced and unnatural.  The next track, “Circles of the Oath” has a brilliant melodic riff, but Absu refuse to play it for any longer than a minute at a time. It’s a brilliant song, but it needs more space to breath, though credit must be given to its fantastic acoustic outro.

All the ideas and riffs on this album so far have been great, however, Absu seem to have stuck them together with scotch tape and called it a day. Things slow down just a touch on “Abraxas Connexus”, and the band locks into a rather excellent groove as the song rolls into riff after riff. The song is less disjointed than its predecessors, but is still lacking a certain musical adhesive.  “Skyring in the Spirit Vision” is the only track on the album with any guitar solos, and features some mind bogglingly fast riffs and an awesome turn around about two-thirds of the way through the song, as Absu head into an apocalyptic riff to end the song with.

“Ontologically, it became space and time” starts with a build towards riff madness, as the drummer pulls off a couple of rather interesting and cool fills before the one minute mark, and the song streamlines into a rhythmic instability that has been prevalent on this record. The song’s ending is a favorite moment on this record, dramatic and layered, and leads nicely into the last track, “A Song for Ea”.

“A song for Ea” starts with some fast paced riffage, but as it’s a fourteen minute track, it’s expected that there will be a slow, melodic counter balance to this intro. Sure enough the song slows down for a rather dramatic section with tom drum based fills and a sound of marching emanating from every instrument, before they shift into a riff slightly similar to Slayer’s “Season’s in The Abyss”, but layered with keyboards and arpeggios. Suddenly, it seems if the song is over, but it’s only been three minutes. A new riff springs from nowhere, and it becomes apparent that Absu haven’t really written a fourteen minute epic, they have poorly glued a bunch of three minute songs together. Sure enough, like clockwork, a new song seems to emerge at the six minute mark. While most of the riffs and ideas here are good, it is disappointing, as a properly constructed fourteen minute Absu song would be awesome.

This album is enjoyable to listen to, but there are a few problems. It seems like most attempts at structural coherence in the songs were abandoned, and the last song is really four songs strung together. While there are many excellent moments and riveting riffs, there’s no really instant favourite, nothing comparable to say “Amy” on Absu’s self titled 2009 release.  If you’re feeling a bit strapped for cash, but craving some Absu this summer, you’re better off spending it on tickets to see Absu live as they hit up Australia in January.  7/10

Band: Absu
Album: Abzu
Year: 2011
Genre: “Mythological Occult Metal”
Label: Candlelight
Origin: Plano, Texas, USA
Website: http://absu.bandzoogle.com/mythologicaloccultmetal.cfm

Track Listing:

1. Earth Ripper
2.  Circles of the Oath
3. Abraxas Connexus
4. Skyring in the Spirit Vision
5. Ontologically, It became Space and Time
6. A Song for Ea

About

Mitch Booth is the owner, designer and grand overlord of Metal Obsession. In the few seconds of spare time he has outside of this site, he also hosts a metal radio show over on PBS 106.7fm in Melbourne (Australia) and organises shows under the name Untitled Touring. You should follow him on Twitter.