U.S. black metal band Abazagorath has been around since 1995. I have to admit I wasn’t familiar with their work, but in defense of my ignorance, this year's The Satanic Verses is their first full-length since 2004. Better late than never, though, because as I told Max when I first heard the promo, "This band rips like some kind of industrial ripping machine!" (Yes, I am a true wordsmith.)
The basis of Abazagorath's sound is more second-wave Norwegian than anything you might associate with the present-day USBM scene. When I first listened to the opening tracks, I thought this would be very thrashy, Satan-obsessed black metal, not unlike what I've heard from 1349's new album. Very good, but maybe nothing ground breaking. On repeat listens, though, I kept finding more and more things to like.
|Founding member Warhead. Photo by Metal Chris|
There's a great amount of vocal variety happening here. The wraith-like rasps are very satisfying, but there are also some deeper gutturals and an occasional raspy clean mixed in. And that's not even the most interesting part--in several songs, like "Visions of Azrael," there are vocals that sound very much like Mongolian throat singing. It's mostly used sparingly--more for an accent than anything else--but the growling resonance of the technique is well-suited to black metal. Variety is also the name of the game in song lengths. You get everything from quick, two-minute blasts like "Revelations," up to nine-minute mini-epics like "Return to Jahilia." The latter, in particular, shows off the band's songwriting chops. The intro could be another throwaway acoustic intro, quickly forgotten, but they take care to incorporate that melody into the song itself, which a lot of bands don't seem to bother with. As with many albums that make the transition from good to potentially great, there's an attention to detail here that makes all the difference.
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As an added bonus, the band has taken the time to put albums going all the way back to 1996 on their Bandcamp, so there’s a lot to check out.