Review: Abbath “Dread Reaver” [Season of Mist]

Review: Abbath “Dread Reaver” [Season of Mist]

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Get ready for wild adventures in a cold and dark world. Black metal isn’t all depressive moods and gloomy keyboards, it’s also fast kick-ass riffs with gnarly vocals. Abbath proves this in his new solo album, with its 9 memorable songs, sharply written in the style he knows best.

This album is all fast drumming, fast riffs with a sort of echo that makes them sound like a cold wind, and high-pitched raspy vocals, nothing you haven’t already heard from Abbath with and without Immortal. But it’s all written and performed so well that it’s immediately irresistible. It actually manages to take that somewhat old, way too often imitated sound and make it sound fresh, heavy and mean, and it really rocks in the special way that old school black metal can rock.

It’s obvious from the awesome opener, “Acid Haze”, a fast-paced track that thrashes like hell and offers a pretty great vocal performance. The vocals throughout the album are usually that sharp, high-pitched black metal shriek that I love, but on following tracks like “Scarred Core”, they turn into a sort of weird raspy singing or speak-singing style, or a sort of raspy growled recitation on “Dream Cull”. It all sounds pretty good and gives a strange little atmosphere to the album.

Musically, tracks like “Septentrion Scarred Core” keep that merciless speed and energy, with some pretty cool guitar solos as well. “Myrmidon” is heavy and fast, with vocals that sound like an edgier Mötörhead, and it’s a pretty convincing attempt at a longer, heavier and epic track. It also has one of the wildest solo and bridges of the album, along with maybe “Septentrion”. But we get new ideas, like the acoustic intro and slightly slower and eerier “Dream Cull” (the word eerie seems meant for black metal in general, which is why I tend to overuse it in my reviews). “The Deep Unbound” starts with that heavy and gloomy black metal riff that sounds like it came from a dark satanic church in the night, and it turns into a pretty heavy and energetic track. And finally, the title track has all the little elements from this album: it’s fast, but with eerie vocals that include high shrieks, creepy recitation and raspy spoken word, and it weaves a long and epic story. It’s the kind of album where you hear one each song and think it’s your favorite, until you hear the next one, because they all have their own qualities.

Basically, all these songs with their mix of speed and eeriness, create the atmosphere of a really crazy and fast rock concert in a snowstorm somewhere in the grim up north. Even the only cover on the album, both with its themes and the way it’s adapted to Abbath’s musical style, creates that atmosphere. Which cover is it? Come on, guess. Metallica’s “Trapped Under Ice”, of course! Points for not taking a really obvious pick, instead resurrecting an older, underrated Metallica song, and for enhancing the raw and raspy quality of the original.

So this is a nice collection of cold and raw songs that rock really heard. Please go check this one out if you want the kind of black metal that sounds like a crazy rock concert in a snowstorm, because it’s one of the greatest examples of that style that I’ve heard in the past few months. This is a definitely great album, and a strong contender for one of the best of the year.

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About the author

Loves words and music. When not writing or reading reviews, she’s writing horror stories where music plays a part.

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