These Austrians’ reunion back in 2006 came and went accompanied by little to no buzz and I must admit that I myself wasn’t aware that they had a new full-length out until I happened to come across this album in a specialty store late last year. I must admit that I haven’t been that impressed by their most recent output but I nevertheless picked up a copy out of sheer curiosity. It took me a long time to fully appreciate “Fractal Possession” but I think I’m finally able to review it in an objective way, so here goes.
If you haven’t been following ABIGOR’s musical evolution as of late I wager you’ll be quite taken aback by this new album since these new songs have very little in common with the searing Pagan-tinged Black Metal that they became known for in the 90s. The traditional tremolo riffing and epic keyboard melodies have been ditched in favour of a more technical/avant-garde sound with the band fully embracing jarring atonality and industrial undertones, a direction that their last album (“Satanized”) already hinted at. The clinical production job and seemingly disjointed guitar-work pushes the album more in the style of SATYRICON’s “Rebel Extravaganza” or DEATHSPELL OMEGA’s latest, ensuring that anyone expecting something along the lines of “Apokalypse” or “Supreme Immortal Art” will be thoroughly baffled by this release. It took me a long time to fully digest this newfound approach and although I found the album quite unlistenable at first my second listen (six months down the line...) was a much more pleasant experience, the music revealing a more logical flow with quite a few good riffs along the way (“Lair Of Infinite Desperation”, ”Liberty Rises A Diagonal Flame”).
I don’t think this is a particularly amazing album or anything but it is definitely one of those albums that will grow on you with each listen, at least to the point where you won’t see it as a pile of utter shite. That’s how I experienced it anyway. “Liberty Rises A Diagonal Flame” has some really cool melodic and fluid riffs interspersed with all the abrupt time changes and industrial embellishments while the backing ambiance in the album closer (“Heaven Unveiled”) gives it a nice tranquil vibe that juxtaposes well with the harsh vocals and stop-go riffing. The constant tempo changes in “Lair Of Infinite Desperation” is also deftly executed and I can’t see anyone who’s into the aforementioned “Rebel Extravaganza” or even ARCTURUS not enjoying what these Austrians went for here. New vocalist A.R. also does a fine job behind the microphone though I suspect his Death Metal-styled delivery will disappoint those who miss the more high-pitched yelps of former vocalists Silenius and Tharen. Credit must also go to returning drummer T.T. who really gets to show off his chops during the highly technical parts of the album (which is most of the time!).
I’ll still take the albums from their mid 90s period over this one any day but I respect the band’s decision to update their sound with this album as their old sound was becoming a bit redundant if I really have to be honest. This one is definitely more for fans of “third wave” Black Metal or basically anyone into technical/avant-garde extreme Metal. A slow grower it may be but it’s solid nonetheless.
(Online November 11, 2008)