Absu - _The Third Storm of Cythraul_
(Osmose Prod., 1997)
by: Steve Hoeltzel (
This is just excellent: hyper-energetic weirdness all the way. The third full-length from these eclectic Texan mystics, it's a high-voltage meltdown of elements of black metal, thrash, and death, with totally wacked vocals to boot. _The Sun of Tiphareth II_, it's not! The band plows through nine tracks in under 38 minutes, abandoning the epic style of _The Sun..._ in favor of concentrated, uncomplicated bursts of energy which are craftily constructed and compelling as hell. I defy any crowd not to go nuts to the fire-spitting anthem "Swords and Leather" or the charging "Winter Zephyr", both of which exemplify a lot of what makes this such a great album. It's utterly direct, driving, irresistibly catchy, and seething with vigor. (A couple of songs do invoke the more complex, varied style exhibited on the last album, but each clocks in at about four minutes, max) A re-recorded version of the 7-inch track "And Shineth Unto the Cold Cometh" gets the album started. Talented drumming with tons of great fills propels the attack, grounding catchy, speedy riffs which transcend simple categories like "death" and "thrash" yet remain jagged and sharp. Tempos are fast, for the most part, but never so fast that the pulsing momentum washes out in a blur of monotonous speed, and there are some great time changes. Cooler still, the quick, dexterous vocal phrasings are loaded with hooks, and really pull you into the songs as the lyrics are speed-chanted atop the slithering riffs and driving percussion. I suppose Proscriptor's gremlin-ish vocals are an acquired taste, but I think they're cool. They're different from the standard black metal rasping, and they feed the engaging, over-the-top weirdness of the band's overall sound. (Shaftiel also contributes his deeper vocals to a couple of tracks.) Be warned, though: the production leaves a lot to be desired, as the mix puts drums and vocals up front and noticeably muffles the guitars. Still, that doesn't detract from my enjoyment of this one at all. Almost gave it a ten, and I get into it more with every listen. Killer, killer release.
(article published 3/16/1997)
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