Author: Brendan Blake
- Artist: Abigor
- Album: Nachthymnen (From The Twilight Kingdom)
- Year of Release: 1995
- Country: Austria
- Label: Napalm
- Format: Jewelcase CD
- Catalogue Number: NPR 014
Abigor continue their good to excellent form with full-length number two, Nachthymnen (From the Twilight Kingdom). It marks an end to their split German/English album titles, but this isn’t really significant as their sound evolves fairly seamlessly from their previous two recordings and earlier demos. I’ve heard others describe this as the high point of the Abigor discography, and while I don’t agree with this summation (I think there are at least a couple of later albums that for me are total classics of the genre), this is undoubtedly an absolute belter of a record.
It’s firmly within the early-to-mid 90s black metal vein, obviously, and with that comes the prerequisite production values – so if you don’t like that thin, tremolo-heavy thing, then I really wouldn’t bother. Having said that, apart from the total lack of bass, this is a remarkably clear-sounding record – noticeably underground, but without devolving into the murk of the truly worst examples of the genre. Bass is sonically absent from almost all mid-90s black metal, so that’s no surprise; allegedly there is some on here, but damned if I can hear it. What is great about this record is just how much *stuff* there is going on! Re-listening to this after a decade of being pummelled by drone, post-metal, blackgaze, post-dronegaze, or whatever is the current thing, it is remarkable just how many riffs there are on this. Those furious blast parts (and the chaos black I think they perfected later) are definitely there, but this is actually hyper-melodic. If I was looking for comparisons I’d go for early Satyricon or Ancient even, but neither were quite as varied as this (at this point in their careers). There are elements that should be laugh-out-loud silly (and I’m sure others would find them so), including the use of female vocals, timpani, the wind sounds, the bell (oh, the bell!), and so on, but I don’t care. I just find myself swept along with it.
It’s better than Orkblut – it has cohesion as a piece of work that its predecessor didn’t, and the band seem happier with blending their frankly insane number of ideas into each song rather than creating separate pieces. It’s not avant-garde in the sense of Sigh or Arcturus, but this is still brimming with ingenuity, within a very traditionalist musical movement – to which they are firmly wed, and I can’t see many looking askance. It’s also, if slightly ridiculous in places (isn’t most heavy metal?), a fantastic metal album. There are bits that recall classic Maiden, there’s a significant chunk of ‘Dornen’ that could have been written by some (decent) Euro-goth metal band, and there is more than enough Scandinavian black metal influence to silence the kvltists. The more I revisit the Abigor back catalogue, the more I find myself amazed they have not achieved the same lofty heights as some of their better-known contemporaries. This is a genuinely great black metal album and if you don’t own it, do something about that.