Author: BD Joyce
- Artist: Abbath
- Album: Abbath
- Year of Release: 2016
- Country: Norway
- Label: Season of Mist
- Format: Digipack CD
- Catalogue Number: SOM 366D
Following his acrimonious departure from black metal stalwarts Immortal, Abbath released his first, self-titled, album in 2016. Racing out of the blocks with the insistent sycopated riffing and typical lyrical sublety of At War!, the initial signs are good. Perhaps unsurprisingly mining a similar furrow to the final two albums of Abbath’s previous band (prior to their Demonaz-led resurrection), fans of his work will find a lot to like about this solo venture. Winterbane continues in a similar vein, a superbly memorable descending chorus riff adding a touch of majesty to proceedings.
Unfortunately, as the album continues to unfurl its ravendark wings, its limitations come more strongly into focus. Until the frenzied black-thrash, and d-beat chorus of Fenrir Hunts brings a welcome does of speed, the mid-paced trudge of the first half of the album threatens to become monotonous. Together with the somewhat muddy sheet metal guitar sound that Abbath (the man, not the band or album) tends to favour these days, the album fails to coalesce into a dynamic whole and becomes simply a collection of songs, most of which are a variation on the theme that Immortal perfected on Sons of Northern Darkness.
That’s not to say it’s irredeemable, however. The synths that appear from nowhere on Ashes of the Damned offer a tantalising hint of what could’ve been a sound that revisited 90s symphonic black metal, and Root of the Mountain raises a wry smile with some Deep Purple-inspired basslines that are too close to Black Night not to be intentional.
Ultimately though, it’s hard not to see Abbath as a rushed attempt to get some new music out,to enable the man himself to get out on the road and continue to knock out the Immortal classics that most fans undoubtedly want to hear. One imagines that Abbath was loathe to stray too far from his own well-trodden path with his first release, but the bonus cover of Judas Priest’s Riding on the Wind offers both a vigour and energy lacking from the original compositions, as well as showcasing a blackened-NWOBHM direction that it would be interesting to see Abbath experiment with further as he builds his solo career. A solid, but flawed start.