Author: Brendan Blake
- Artist: Abigail
- Album: Intercourse & Lust
- Year of Release: 1996
- Country: Japan
- Label: Fallen-Angels Productions
- Format: Jewelcase CD
- Catalogue Number: AngeL29
After a few demos and a decent debut EP, Abigail present their first debut album proper. They have a dizzying and impenetrable back catalogue of split EPs, 7” releases and live albums that I’m never going to cover with adequate completeness having picked up their early demos collections and the first couple of albums, but I feel sated with that, as – great as I think it is – I’m kind of done here.
There is a notable step-up here in production here for this, their first full-length, although stylistically little has changed. But I’m not sure whether there has been a sea-change in attitude, or whether I’ve just got my ear in more, because this sounds absolutely (thrashingly) brilliant. The bass in particular is deliciously high in the mix, and the whole thing harks back to the glory days of their heroes Venom, Bulldozer, NME, early Bathory et al. There are even frequent uses of the Tom G. Warrior “oof” throughout, and while this is undeniably black metal, it is clear that Yasuyuki Suzuki and his not-so-merry men have imbibed heavily of both Celtic Frost and most importantly Motorhead. This is evident in the band’s commitment to (largely shunned in the mid-90s) guitar solos, and actually writing proper songs, rather than soundscapes. This is music meant to be played live to the headbanging hordes, not to simply be “appreciated” by the chin-stroking so-called cognoscenti.
Lyrics are a bit hit and miss – although the extremity of the vocals mean little can be deciphered at any rate. The lyric sheet suggests that MetalEnglish does feature, but it’s no worse than elsewhere. What I like about this album is the fact that despite this being ostensibly a straightforward blackened thrash-fest, there are actually moments of light and shade (such as in the acoustic guitar in the brilliant ‘Mephistopheles’, or the keyboards and spoken words on the title track. ‘Hail Yakuza’ starts as a standard pedal-to-the-metal thrash attack, before becoming a much more interesting Sabbath-influenced track interspersed with samples from cult Japanese crime-flicks (or so I am reliably informed).
This is a blinding debut album, covering many bases, from outright black metal a là early Mayhem and the rest, to more tuneful and rocking mid-80s thrash acts. Clearly this didn’t get enough exposure when first released, and at this rate I may have to reassess and rank them higher than the Japanese Sabbat (although neither band touches the genius of the British Sabbat, ploughing a more intricate thrash field).
A note on editions: The version I have also contains the tracks from Abigail’s first demo (reviewed earlier – rawer and more bruising than the LP itself, but the more I listen the more respect I have).