Abigor – Fractal Possession

Author: Brendan Blake

Abigor – Fractal Possession
  • Artist: Abigor
  • Album: Fractal Possession
  • Year of Release: 2007
  • Country: Austria
  • Label: End All Life
  • Format: Digibook CD
  • Catalogue Number: EAL 052

Abigor mainstay P.K. returns after a six year absence (since 2001’s somewhat lukewarmly-received Satanized), re-recruiting drummer T.T. and new vocalist A.R. for 2007’s Fractal Possession. Abigor are quite rightly held in the highest regard within the pantheon of black metal artists, in large part because of their incredible mid- to late-90s output. This took the core backbone of early 90s Norwegian black metal, with a faintly “medieval” twist, but never felt like a direct lift of greater bands, owing to their prodigious talent and almost ADHD approach to song-writing that I have described previously as “chaos black”. Understandably there were huge expectations when a new album was announced, with many fans yearning for a return to the early Satyricon- and Emperor-influenced sounds of yesteryear, rather than Satanized’s more futuristic take on the genre. However, pandering to the kvltist fanbase has never been what Abigor are about.

The first thing to say about Fractal Possession is that it is really, really good. The second thing to say is that, despite the obvious quality on display, it is hard not to feel that Abigor are a little bit late to a party that peaked some years previously. Fractal Possession fits firmly within the Moonfoggery of mid-period Satyricon, Dødheimsgard, Thorns et al. and even to an extent Mayhem’s Grand Declaration Of War (although it is not as daring as the latter). The album kicks off with a vaguely industrial opener (‘Warning’), all robotic voices and radio sounds, which sets the scene for much of the rest of the album – in fact the subtle use of electronics, samples and keys is a real strength of the album. Abigor have never been shy of a good sample or keyword line, but this time they are used differently, creating a colder, more mechanical sound in keeping with the band’s new lyrical stance – still blasphemous and in praise of Satan but now with a technological spin (stand-out track ‘3D Blasphemy’ references the “biomechanical Antichrist”). Again, there is clear influence from the likes of Mysticum and Aborym here, although Abigor embrace industrial to nowhere near the same extent as either, using those influences as flavour more than an outright genre-shift – this is still very clearly black metal, despite its experimentation.

New vocalist A.R. puts in a solid performance – his slightly lower-pitched black metal rasp (in comparison to Silenius’ for instance) suits the music perfectly, and it’s actually nice on this occasion to be able to make out the lyrics; his experiments with clean vocals and the Maniac-style declaratory stuff is more of a mixed bag. When it works, it briefly reminds of Garm or Aldrahn, but when it doesn’t, it sounds out of place (the close of ‘Vapourized Tears’ is suspiciously like latter-day Katatonia – a band I love, but this just doesn’t fit with the rest of this album). The layered guitar sound retains some of the sense of melody from older Abigor, and is unquestionably tightly arranged and performed, and I personally like the slightly stop-start nature of some of the riffing. Also in common with older Abigor are the sheer number of riffs being utilised across the whole album, even if it sounds superficially more straightforward, owing to the impressive production that renders everything audible, which was still a bit of a rarity in black metal in 2007. The drumming of T.T. is predictably incredibly varied and impressive, and he has admirably turned his hand to the mechanical sound of the New Abigor.

This isn’t perfect and could easily be dismissed as an example of bandwagon-jumping by a previous innovator within the scene. I’m more charitable and think this is an excellent example of third-wave black metal embracing new influences and creating something of musical worth. Even if Abigor at this stage were not doing anything wildly ground-breaking, that doesn’t detract from the fact that this is an exceptionally solid set of songs that hang together as a coherent album and represent an impressive return from the proverbial grave for a band many had written off towards the end of the 00s. Recommended.

Score: 78%

Aborym – Fire Walk With Us!

Author: BD Joyce

Aborym – Fire Walk With Us!
  • Artist: Aborym
  • Album: Fire Walk With Us!
  • Year of Release: 2001
  • Country: Italy
  • Label: Scarlet
  • Format: Digipack CD
  • Catalogue Number: SC 022-2

Fire Walk With Us! is very nearly two decades old, but has lost none of the otherworldly brilliance that originally entranced me on release in 2001. The turn of the century was a curious time for black metal; a maturing audience tiring a little of the orthodox second-wave Scandinavian sounds of the key progenitors, and some of the bands themselves reflecting this desire to push the genre into new spaces. Pivotal bands such as Dodheimsgard, Arcturus and Satyricon were at the forefront of this movement, combining external influences such as drum ‘n’ bass, folk and psychedelia with a molten core of black metal riffing to forge ever more left hand paths of extremity.

Aborym’s debut, Kali Yuga Bizarre, had flown somewhat under the radar, but with the aforementioned millennial zeitgeist in their favour, together with the symbolic presence on vocals of ex- (and once again current) Mayhem totem Attila Csihar, the Italians were perfectly positioned to deliver something that both encapsulated the time, and was simultaneously ageless in its embodiment of black metal old and new.

As the buzzsaw guitars of ‘Our Sentence’ immediately set the tone for the rest of the album, Aborym ingeniously deliver the cold, ravishing grimness that one would ordinarily associate with frostbitten black metal, but via the industrial, mechanised feel of the frozen electronics that enhance merge seamlessly with blasting riffing, at times recalling Thorns, in all their discordant majesty.

‘Love The Death As The Life’ falls further into the abyss, with drug-addled psychedelic metal giving way to thumping electronic beats. The grandiloquent title track forms the centrepiece of the album, with a symphonic breadth of sound generating a sense of awe and wonder not dissimilar to early Emperor.

More impressive is that Aborym repeat the trick with the very next track, but with vastly different source material. ‘Here Is No God S.T.A.’ eliminates almost all traces of black metal, instead offering furious techno, but somehow preserving the spiritual core of everything that precedes it.

Finally, bringing the album full circle, prior to the ambient-electro outro of ‘Theta Paranoia’ is a monumental cover of Burzum’s ‘Det Som En Gang Var’. In many other bands’ hands, a version of such a pivotal work of the genre might sound trite and lacking in depth, but on Fire Walk With Us!, it actually serves to unify and connect Aborym with the black metal masters that they both emulate and diverge from so substantially. Aborym’s version is quite simply staggering, maintaining and even accentuating the mesmerising repitition that made the original so essential.

Fire Walk With Us! has lost none of its power since release. In contrast with the music that clearly inspired it, the album finds evokes a dread majesty by taking the listener to the brink of the inward abyss, rather than by looking outward towards infinite nature. The inclusion of the inimitable wails and atonal moaning of Csihar’s vocals also serve to connect Aborym with their clear influences, but rather than standing in the shadows of giants, on this outstanding album, Aborym themselves become one.

Score: 91%