Abigor - _Fractal Possession_
(End All Life Records, 2007)
by: James Montague (
So be honest, how many of you knew that Abigor had reformed? Either I'm losing my way or this is one of the quietest renaissances ever seen by an elite member of any musical genre. Thinking the band dead and buried soon after the critically disclaimed _Satanized_ album six years ago, it was certainly an exciting moment when I tore open yet another promo package to find one of my old favourites had returned from oblivion. Furthermore, the accompanying flyer informed me that original drummer T.T. had returned to the fold. Suddenly, everything was coming up Milhouse.However, any expectation I had of cozy nostalgia was swiftly dismissed by an excessively difficult listening experience. Seemingly hell-bent on alienating their fanbase and starting anew, the first proper song "Project Shadow" is a cacophony of incoherent guitar blips and noises, sputtering randomly over T.T.'s impossibly fast snare blasting. Of course, what I call random guitar blips is what passes for modern/industrial black metal these days, and given the popularity of groups like Blut Aus Nord and Axis of Perdition it seems there is a market for such a thing. The question is: can a band of Abigor's undeniable pedigree make it work?The answer, frustratingly, is yes and no. On the one hand, all Abigor records have a sort of spasmodic quality. Riffs that at first glance seemed ill-suited to one another hammered together with sound samples bridging the gap, drums that often race ahead of the bass and guitars... where most other bands would sound incompetent, Abigor have always come across as all the more diabolical and intense through their messy arrangements. From this perspective a chaotic, cosmic piece of cold inhuman black metal should be well with Abigor's capability.In the end, though, _Fractal Possession_ sounds best when it reaches back ten years and summons the Abigor of old. "Lair of Infinite Desperation" is a wonderful song, a bleak and lonely guitar melody soaring across the landscape until a violent percussive undercurrent sweeps through and scorches the earth beneath. Other tracks like "The Fire Syndrome" and "Liberty Rises a Diagonal Flame" have the eerie majesty that made _Supreme Immortal Art_ one of black metal's all time greatest recordings. But for every moment of brilliance there is another song that takes random chaos to unlistenable levels. It also doesn't help that the new vocalist is entirely devoid of personality: evidently the reunion will never be complete until the legendary Silenius can be coaxed back into the fold.Abigor has always been a patchy band, but in past years that was more stylistic choice than inconsistent quality. _Fractal Possession_, on the other hand, vacillates frustratingly between the sublime and the ridiculous. Exceptionally difficult to wrap one's head about, it ends up an interesting and challenging listen but falls well short of the band's true potential. It's still great to have them back, though.
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