Let’s start by saying this – when I first heard this album, I was impressed. Evil, ridiculously fast Black Metal that manages to be catchy without being drowned in needless keyboard nonsense. Not that I have anything against keyboards, in fact I love them, but in a BM context there’s a line between effective atmospherics and cheesy pop Metal (cough, cough, COF, cough…). Anyway onto ABSU and bearing in mind the first impressions of the band as described above, I wondered to myself where these mysterious mythologically inspired Metallers came from. USA? Now come on, that can’t be right… and wait a minute… Texas?!?! Am I reading this correctly? Now I’m not one of those people that believe SLAYER is a Black Metal band, so the concept of American Black Metal is an alien one to me.
So does the band manage to pull it off? Certainly and to be honest, there’s actually nothing remotely American sounding about “Tara”; the lyrics are centred on Celtic legend, the Necronomicon, sorcery and other such occult subjects and are executed with extremely grim er… grimness. The drumming is exceedingly fast, in every aspect and the extent of this in the double bass department makes for quite a Death Metal feel, although the tremolo riffing and album production see to that. In fact it’s so fast that Proscriptor, the man responsible, was rejected from drumming for SLAYER on account of his actually being “too hard and too fast” and when you hear him you really will understand why. In fact none of the musicianship can be faulted; these guys are top of their game.
The songs have quite a range of length, for this type of Metal anyway and overall there’s a good amount of variety in the album, especially when considering less orthodox tracks like “Stone Of Destiny”, “Bron” and the bagpipe intro “Tara”. The album booklet is even more original than most too – very intricately written to provide information outlining the concept of the album and illustrated by Kris Verwimp. For me, stand out songs are “A Shield With An Iron Face”, “From Ancient Times” and “Vorago”, but like all great albums, each song has it’s own feel and individuality.
This really is Metal unlike any other, perfectly merging elements of Black, Thrash, Death and Folk into a fantastic frenzy, hence the reason ABSU have dubbed their music “Mythological Occult Metal” and it’s certainly unique enough to have its own label. If you haven’t heard of the band before then as far as I’m aware, this would be a great place to start, as the musical and songwriting talent are a serious cut above the countless other mediocre Black Metal bands out there. (Online April 29, 2006)