Author: BD Joyce
Abigail – Forever Street Metal Bitch
- Artist: Abigail
- Album: Forever Street Metal Bitch
- Year of Release: 2003
- Country: Japan
- Label: Drakkar
- Format: Jewelcase CD
- Catalogue Number: DKCD031/2
As I work my way through my CD collection, something of a contradictory critique of metal will likely arise repeatedly. This contradiction is thus: some metal succeeds purely on a visceral level, where the only thing that counts is how it makes you feel when you listen to it, regardless of how memorable and sophisticated the songwriting is. Other metal may be sonically flawless, but fail precisely because the songwriting is bland and forgettable. The first 6 Morbid Angel albums sound ostensibly similar, but the quality fluctuates between peerless genius and solid death metal in large part because of the songwriting. On the other hand, while it can be difficult to remember a single note of Napalm Death’s From Enslavement To Obliteration at the conclusion of the final chord of ‘The Curse’, it remains a seminal and staggeringly exciting grind album because it feels so vital during the listening experience.
All of which is to say that Abigail’s second full-length Forever Street Metal Bitch falls very much into the visceral experience category, and succeeds for that very reason. Abigail offer up a very specifically Japanese metal experience, not unlike that of their compatriots Sabbat, with comically crude metalenglisch lyrics and song titles (‘Violence, Kill And Destruction’ / ‘Struggle To Death’). One imagines that Abigail are simultaneously deadly serious about their art, while revelling in the absurd obscenity of such primitive and unapologetic music.
Also in its favour is the fact that Forever Street Metal Bitch occupies a specific triangulation of metal that I rarely tire of listening to; the convergence of rudimentary proto-thrash, death and black metal that existed before any of those now well-established forms had coalesced into distinct and recognisable sounds. This is the almost indefinable metal of Bathory, Venom, Celtic Frost and Kreator, of Merciless, Tormentor and Bulldozer. Not quite thrash, death or black, but somehow all of them and none of them at the same time.
That’s not to say that this album stands toe to toe with any of the classic works of the genre, but its retread of these well-worn paths is hugely enjoyable nonetheless. From the bastardised NWOBHM of ‘Damned In Hell’, through the almost GBH punk of ‘Black Metal Thunder’, cheekily aping Motorhead’s ‘Overkill’ double-bass intro, to the spiralling Possessed-sounding riffs of album highlight ‘Struggle To Death’, Forever Street Metal Bitch is 30 minutes of pure gonzo fun, Kill ‘Em All falling down the stairs and reassembling a Frankenstein’s monster from the ruins. Abigail intuitively understand the value in not overstaying a welcome when relying on a sound or vibe, rather than dynamics and songcraft. This is a frenzied noise, adorned in denim, leather and spikes and built for blasting in small, grimy clubs with sticky floors.
Forever Street Metal Bitch does not attain the standards of those masters that it unashamedly worships. A facsimile cannot be the original, no matter the fidelity of the reproduction. It is undoubtedly missing a certain arcane atmosphere that one can find in spades across the early Bathory albums, mid-90s black metal, or even more obscure oddities such as Root. It is, however, hugely enjoyable to listen to, for at least as long as one is listening to it.