Abigor - _Supreme Immortal Art_
(Napalm Records, 1998)
by: Steve Hoeltzel (
With so many grimly nicknamed clones and "majestic black metal art" fakes clamoring after our coin these days, it's cool that there are still some bands like Abigor who seriously explore the possibilities of the black metal aesthetic, yet without stagnating or incorporating more commercial elements. (For another truly worthy act, check out the Black Funeral review below.) _Supreme Immortal Art_ is definitely the band's most finely textured work yet, retaining Abigor's wounded, wrathful, alien tone, but striving to give those impulses a more multifaceted expression. In lieu of the medieval romanticism of _Nachthymnen_, the fever-dream aura of _Opus IV_, or the unadorned blackness of _Apokalypse_, this one evokes a phantasmagoric array of different but consistently weird and eerie aural feels. (The shrieking vocals are back, by the way.) The closest comparison from the band's back catalog would probably be _Nachthymnen_, but _Supreme Immortal Art_ seems more ambitious and accomplished. Complex song structures tie together manifold well-arranged segments, while constantly shifting synthesizer settings and vocal nuances drape different shades of creepiness over the spiky metallic skeleton of each track. Sampling is employed occasionally, too. Good production balances everything nicely in a clear, detailed mix. Plenty of hyper-speed bursts pepper the tracks, but on the whole this seems more subdued than earlier stuff: Ambience, not aggression, is the principal focus this time. I wasn't exactly blown away by this, and I still prefer _Opus IV_ and the magnificent _Orkblut_, but _Supreme Immortal Art_ has continually grown on me as more and more detail emerges with every listen. Still... I think the essential black metal vibe tends to get lost in compositions as complex as these. But be that as it may, there's real musical quality on display here; no doubt about that. You decide.
(article published 3/10/1998)
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