Review Summary: Washed in Abbath.
Ah, the immortal Abbath. Or is it: Abbath, the Immortal? Either way I’ve always been tentatively hopeful that Abbath’s separation from the infamous Norwegian black metal band would result in something fruitful, pushing past the simple pleasantries and goofy black n’ roll aesthetic we’ve seen under the more modern Abbath moniker. This time around however, Abbath’s Dread Reaver
misses the mark, goes off tangent and mostly disappoints. I mean, separately, I like Abbath as a musician. Moreso when you consider the impact Immortal has had on the black metal scene. But these days? Man, I just don’t know about that anymore…
That’s to say Dread Reaver
doesn’t even hit the happy-go-lucky standards of the albums that came before it—mostly due to its lack-lustre guitar work, stoner-lug pacing and some criminal Motorhead worshipping vocals. That’s forgiving most of Abbath’s Lemmy-style gravel that’s peppered his past releases. Still I can’t help that most of the act’s individuality is long gone, victim to the fact that this is definitely, without doubt an Abbath (the guy) show. After all, his likeness adorns the front cover and
the album’s mixing…
Let’s not get stuck here though.
“Acid Haze” starts strong. Simple terms for a simple track. Riffs burn through the speakers while a tumult of drums provide a very predictable background. While the track’s aesthetic thrashes and romps in the darkness, everything itself is hidden under a wash of the album’s sub-par mixing. While the strings blur to the point of being unidentifiable, only Abbath’s coarse croak and the snare/bass pound away to clear effect. This mixing further cripples the album’s ability to be replayed to the nth degree. Ideas blend and wash out without separation, further compounded as Abbath’s vocals continually lose their visceral edge. “Dream Cull” and “Myrmidon” fly by without a need for comment; even while an eruption of ideas all happens, at once and without impact. These old-school thrash cum black metal rompers present themselves as mindless, self-pious expressions marketed for those greybeards who “miss the good ol’ days”.
That’s not to say everything here is the musical equivalent of a dumpster fire. If you have the patience to sift and sort there’s a few approachable, solid head-banging moments—just put down the Jack Daniels and cigs for a minute. These moments, few as they are, stick out and make the complacency of the rest of the record stick out like a cat’s arsehole. Take the solo work of “The Deep Unbound” for example; not only is that one of the best single guitar moments to be found within the Abbath discography, but it’s also neck-deep in the mire that stalls the rest of Dread Reaver
. Making matters worse is the contestable latter half of the new record—an exclamation mark on that piss poor Metallica cover. “Trapped Under Ice” suffers from a stock standard delivery, lacking the originality you’d hope an act with Abbath at the helm would achieve. Frankly, it’s okay on a first listen. It might even pass as casual listening at a party, but past that it’s value to this record is measured in the bare minimum. Dread Reaver
misses on multiple fronts and its occasional glimpses into brilliance are far outweighed by its stock-standard ideas, blurred mixings and inconsistent vocal delivery. I know I’ve skimmed over the bare minimum in this review and frankly, I find it hard to pour more time into a record that’s filled to the brim with minimal effort. Maybe Abbath and co. were looking for a happy medium. Honestly, they fuc
king hit it. It’s just on the wrong end of the scale.