Proscriptor McGovern’s Apsû - Proscriptor McGovern's Apsû - (9.5/10)
Published on December 2, 2021
In truth, entities should not be multiplied beyond necessity, so Proscriptor McGovern’s Apsû is the same good old Absu although with a cumbersome name. Therefore, we have been waiting for the new album of the band for 10 years. On the whole, “Proscriptor McGovern’s Apsû” continues to push the “Abzu” agenda, i. e. fast and furious thrash metal armed with a somewhat ragged structure in which dissonance is used more often than not for emotional intensity. Right, that kind of weird amalgamation we’ve heard before. So, if you once decided to stop at “Absu”, then “Apsû” (that is what the album should have been called if the band had been remained in its former form) is clearly not for you. However, “Proscriptor McGovern’s Apsû” is not just a continuation of “Abzu”, and it is not “the same good old Absu” at all.
First of all, Proscriptor’s new invocation sounds much rougher, it is as if a sculptor forgot to sand the sharp corners on his sculpture (means the “Abzu” album). The staccato structure of the Proscriptor McGovern’s Apsû music, i. e. frequently changing tempo and constantly jumping from one to another riffs, falls on the listener from the very first song. Definitely, the guitar has become more ragged, to match Proscriptor’s vocals by the way. The second song “Esoterically Excoriating the Exoteric” holds the album’s position, at the very beginning we hear a really eye-popping riff, it’s a true whirlwind, wild and unbridled. And this relentless attack just goes on and on without a break in the wall. Without a doubt, these extra-sophisticated songs are much crazier than “Abzu”. So it is quite natural that the number of passages played with tremolo picking has significantly decreased even in comparison with “Absu”, not to mention the earlier albums.
The guitar sound is fairly dry (but not “sandy”), thanks to this you can make out every note, every passage. It becomes clear that in their development and experimentation Absu (pardon) did not give up on the roots at all, you constantly hear the echoes of the US thrash metal classics like Atheist, Sadus, Order from Chaos (“Quasaric Pestilence”, “Jupiter in Capricornus”, “Caliginous Whorl”, “The Coagulating Respite”), moreover, sometimes you can recognize the classic thrash metal passages from Kreator (“Dedicated to Thoth, but Azathoth Wasn’t Listening (A Necroloquy)”). For that matter it is worth noting that from the very beginning, in technical/progressive sections, you can feel the Pestilence of the early progressive era. Oh yeah, it’s not thrash metal but nevertheless.
In contrast, the Proscriptor McGovern’s Apsû music has become less “black metal-ish”. At least there is no more classical black metal with its trembling tremolo here, instead we hear avant-garde black metal in the vein of Deathspell Omega with their use of dissonance (“In-Betweeness Gateway Commuters”, “Every Watchtower Within Is the Axis of a Watchtower Without Including Totemic Thresholds”) and Abigor with their abnormal melodies (“Quasaric Pestilence”).
What else can we say about black metal applied to this album? Well, if you understand the definition “as if modern Mayhem were playing thrash metal”, then it’s about the opening riff of “Amenta: Accelerando: Azyn Including Hierophantasmal Expounder”. Perhaps, a mysterious synthesizer with an enigmatic sound, more precisely, a mellotron, is all that remains of the black metal component in its pure form, the keyboard parts are played quite often on “Proscriptor McGovern’s Apsû”. But on the whole this album is the realm of thrash metal even in a greater degree than “Abzu”, although, well, there is no falsetto shriek here as at the beginning of “Earth Ripper”.
It has to be said that Proscriptor McGovern’s Apsû have mercy upon their listeners, whether wilfully or unintentionally. Starting from “Jupiter in Capricornus”, the sophisticated riffage is waning, instead of it a thrash metal wall of sound that really destroys everything in its path is put at the forefront of the songs. The shift in emphasis begins to be felt especially sharply during “Caliginous Whorl”. This is somewhat disappointing, but, on the other hand, maybe it was not necessary to keep the whole album in the spirit of the first songs, because it would be pure madness. Especially given that in the last song “Every Watchtower Within Is the Axis of a Watchtower Without Including Totemic Thresholds” Absu (sorry) seems to have a second wind, and again they generate a rather sophisticated composition with stumbling tempo.
Even with all things considered, although the new album doesn’t include quasi-epic songs like “A Song for Ea” from “Abzu”, where the viscosity of “South of Heaven” was mixed with genteel dissonances of post black metal and a barbaric attack of old school thrash metal, and although there is only one lyrical acoustic break on “Proscriptor McGovern’s Apsû”, this album is not devoid of melodism at all. Already “Esoterically Excoriating the Exoteric” demonstrates that the melody pulsates in the riffs. The album has a wide variety of solos and leads, guest guitarists were involved in their recording, such as Ross the Boss, Blasphemer, Alex Colin-Tocquaine, and Eskarth the Dark One. There are, of course, typical chaotic thrash metal solos (check “Amenta: Accelerando: Azyn Including Hierophantasmal Expounder”), but there are also quite melodic parts (“Mirroracles” and “Caliginous Whorl”).
Summary. The logical chain “Absu” – “Abzu” – “Apsû” is like three main stages of making a sword. “Absu” is the drawing out of the blade blank (it is still soft and malleable), “Abzu” is the forging (well, hard deformation is carried out here), and “Apsû” is the quenching (hardening occurs now). Now the metal of the sword is hard and cold. Enjoy!