Absu
Absu


3.5
great

Review

by Iai EMERITUS
April 3rd, 2009 | 57 replies


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Thrashy black metallers return with their most solid, palatable set yet.

If it reaches the audience it has the potential to, Absu will probably be compared to Cynic's Traced in Air, at least in terms of context. Like Cynic, Absu have been on hiatus for a hell of a long time (8 years, to be precise), leaving time for a legacy to fester; make no mistake, even if Cynic have generated a much greater fanbase and a much greater respect with death metal circles, Absu's excellent Tara did much the same in the black metal world on a smaller scale. Perhaps if they'd waited the full 14 years like Cynic did, maybe they'd have the same following. Who knows"

In any case, the other key similarity to Cynic is that Absu make the kind of music that can keep the nerdier end of the extreme metal fanbase locked in never-ending debates about what their genre actually is. Are they genuinely blackened thrash" Are they a thrash band dressed up in black metal vocals and blastbeats" Are they just a well-produced black metal band with some catchy riffs" Should they actually just be considered prog or avant-garde" And so on. Here is where the similarities end; sonically, Absu are relentlessly heavy and unashamedly metallic, with very few influences coming from outside the likes of Kreator and Mayhem.

And yet, the thing that really distinguishes Absu from anything you might compare them to is their accessibility. Black metal this might be, but even Mastodon's latest is more difficult to get into than this, let alone Traced in Air or the other major black metal release of the moment, Black Cascade - where too many of the bands that populate the scene use the genre as a screen between themselves and any but the most devoted listener, as a way of making their music as outside prevailing culture as possible, Absu have managed to carve a vision of black metal that never cuts back on the heaviness, but that won't alienate 98% of the population. It might seem like a backhanded compliment, but in all honesty, just one or two listens to any of the first four Metallica albums is ample preparation for this. In fact, early Metallica is a stronger reference point for this than you'd ever reasonably expect, particularly in the Hammett-esque guitar solos that appear intermittently, but also in a lot of the simultaneously hooky and heavy rhythm guitar work.

Other interesting influences creep in, too, as they do with all the truly great black metallers. Two particular sections, even if they are just intros and outros, display the band's awareness of composers like Krysyztof Penderecki and Cornelius Cardew. There are occasionally proggy keyboard solos, too, which might prove a sticking point for some listeners (one other Sputnik staffer has already expressed his distaste for them and said he preferred it when they were experimenting with bagpipes instead), but which provide a necessary ballast and an extra edge to the moments in which they appear, moments which might otherwise have flagged. There's even stop-time passages in some tracks which could be compared to classic rock'n'roll, at a stretch - it might seem like a simple thing, but it's a simple thing that black metal bands generally don't do, all the same.

In all honesty, it's very easy to praise Absu too much for what it achieves, and while there will undoubtedly be plenty who call this the metal album of the year, it won't be; it might not even be remembered as the best Absu album. But what this album does undoubtedly have going for it is the fact that it's got the potential to be a very important album for thousands of individuals - to be plain about it, this is the single best gateway into black metal for a newcomer that this reviewer has ever heard, and it doesn't sacrifice any of its underground credentials in the process. And for that, as well as for the quality of the music, it's a great album.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Iai
Emeritus
April 3rd 2009


3553 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

In before 'holy crap I thought this would be a Cocaine review'



edit: also this is a pretty meh review but whatever, great album





This Message Edited On 04.03.09

Fugue
April 3rd 2009


7371 Comments


Good review man, this sounds really interesting and I'll definitely be checking it out.

gaslightanthem
April 3rd 2009


5209 Comments


good review mangg, may or may not check this out idk yet

Mendigo
April 3rd 2009


2299 Comments


didn't enjoy this too much, something like a 2.5-3

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
April 3rd 2009


22485 Comments


"this is the single best gateway into black metal for a newcomer that this reviewer has ever heard."

Hmmm, now that's what I've been waiting to read for a while. Good review Nick.

BallsToTheWall
April 3rd 2009


48877 Comments


Wow, happy to see this reviewed. Nice work, killer album.

Altmer
April 3rd 2009


5701 Comments


holy crap I thought this would be a Cocaine review

but it's a good one

south_of_heaven 11
April 3rd 2009


5511 Comments


Absu is real good.
Didnt know this was out yet...weird.

Digging: High on Fire - Electric Messiah

luci
April 3rd 2009


10044 Comments


Really great review, will be checking this out.

karina
April 3rd 2009


165 Comments


band sux

fireaboveicebelow
April 3rd 2009


6832 Comments


cover looks sweet, review is good naturally...but will it beat Tara

Essence
April 3rd 2009


6233 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

good review, got me interested somewhat



This Message Edited On 04.03.09

Tyler
Emeritus
April 3rd 2009


7925 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks for doin' this, I couldn't get around to it. This is better than Tara, the vocals are infinitely better and the music sounds more natural. This Message Edited On 04.03.09

Iai
Emeritus
April 3rd 2009


3553 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Ugh, and you have no idea how much it pisses me off when other people do that trash/thrash thing.

HenchmanOfSanta
April 3rd 2009


1994 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Can't believe it took this long to get a review. This is AotY so far.

Tyler
Emeritus
April 3rd 2009


7925 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Ugh, and you have no idea how much it pisses me off when other people do that trash/thrash thing.


It's an easy typo to make, I do it all the time. But the fact that some people genuinely believe that it's "trash" is more than a little disconcerting.

gaslightanthem
April 3rd 2009


5209 Comments


It's an easy typo to make, I do it all the time. But the fact that some people genuinely believe that it's "trash" is more than a little disconcerting.


this


Meatplow
April 3rd 2009


5524 Comments


sounds interesting, the Cynic comparisons were cool. review was good

BallsToTheWall
April 3rd 2009


48877 Comments


Tara was pretty cool too but it's about time these guys recieved some mainstream exposure on sputnik.

Hawks
April 3rd 2009


60838 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I heard of these guys a few years ago, but I've never had the desire to get any of their stuff. Maybe I will soon.

Digging: Sargeist - Unbound



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