Only two years after the band's very strong self titled album, the American Extreme Metal legends come back with a shorter record called "Abzu" that reminds a lot of the previous output. The cover artwork is as great, the album and song title structures are very similar and the music is also great on both releases.
As this record is in fact quite short I think it will make sense to briefly talk about each of the six tracks to give you a good impression of this little gem.
The record opens with a big band which is the amazing Speed Thrash Metal killer "Earth Ripper" that employs some unusual and addicting siren sounds in the beginning. This little song has more changes in style and diversity than other band put in entire records and it still all fits well together. There is no better way to open an album and the track gets to the point in not even four minutes.
"Circles Of The Oath" takes no prisoners and starts as a speedy Death Metal track but switches quickly to smoother Doom Metal parts just to change back to its original style and so on. This duality is surprising and quite addicting and one never gets tired of discovering new elements within the sound of this song.
"Abraxas Connexus" has more of an old school vibe and sounds like a mixture of VENOM and SLAYER in their best years to me. What makes this song stand out once again are the brilliant and almost progressive changes of style. The riffs are melodic and memorable, the bass is galloping around, the drum patterns never cease to change and the vocals are dark and energizing. One highlight follows another on this record.
"Skrying In The Spirit Vision" is another fast dark Extreme Metal hammer with subtle changes of rhythm, pace and style. The song has some great short guitar solos, pitiless mosh parts and Thrashier passages towards the end. What I miss in here is a little atmospheric break and a more profound structure and that's why this track is still pretty good but less addicting as the first three ones.
"Ontologically, It Became Time And Space" is another fast paced track but has some more atmospheric riffs than the previous song. The breaks are great and help a lot to make this song stand out. The great drum patterns in the ending also rate this track up.
"A Song For Ea" is by far the longest song on the release and divided into six parts. The track starts with some atmospheric Doom parts just like an epic Extreme Metal track should do but the band switches maybe a little bit too fast to a fast paced Blackened Thrash Metal passage. In fact this track resumes the rest of the album pretty well. Slower Doom passages switch too pitiless death or thrash parts and some atmospheric interludes and breaks glue the whole thing together. Sometimes, the transitions are a little bit too fast and that's where the band still could improve from an atmospheric, lyrical and intellectual point of view. This means that ABSU could even get better than this and as this record is slightly better than the last output, I see a positive tendency in here and wait for more things to come. Concerning this epic song, it's a great one but not the expected masterpiece that surpasses the rest. I would chronologically cite the first three tracks as the best ones on the album.
In the end, this record should please to any fan of Extreme Metal music and could also please to open minded fans of Thrash or Progressive Metal. ABSU deliver a short but very sweet record and I could have listened to another album of forty minutes or so with such a high quality. Within the next days, the record will surely rotate a lot of times in my stereo system and I will push the replay button a couple of times. Be sure to not miss this record as ABSU seem to be stronger than ever after a career that now lasts for more than twenty years.
(Online February 10, 2012)