Absu - _Abzu_
(Candlelight Records, 2011)
by: Johnathan A. Carbon (6.5 out of 10)
Whenever discussing USBM, Absu is an obvious entry in conversation. Along with Von, Goatlord, Profantica and Demoncy, Absu is one of the older entries in the US first wave as well as apart of a strange collective of early Texan black metal bands. While longhorn metal is a few years off from widespread recognition, the imagery is humorous. Absu's evolution through the 1990's has been marked with spectacular records ending at an apex with the release of 2001's _Tara_. After a lengthy hiatus, the band returned in 2009 to produce _Absu_, a record which received generally favorable reviews. As if attempting some sort of magikal conversion, a new group returns in 2011 for the release of _Abzu_.

The central figure for Absu has always been the drummer/vocalist Russ R. Givens, also known as Proscriptor McGovern. With the release of 2009's _Absu_, Givens expressed a shift from Celtic mythology to an ancient Mesopotamian occultism. This fact should not surprise anyone familiar with Given's work with Melechesh during the high years of 2000-2005. Givens shares vocals duties with new bassist Ezezu, a relinquishment which has not been seen since the mid-'90s. Much like_ Absu_, _Abzu_ plunges deep within Sumerian mythology experimenting with Persian scales and ancient forms of darkness. While 17 minutes shorter than the previous entry,_ Abzu_ successfully delivers a frightening exploration from a band who has done more than enough to be recognized.

2009's _Absu_ was marked with instances of psychedelic experimentation. _Abzu_, for the most part, forgets any notion of progressive noodling for a svelte delivery of black metal. This, of course, changes with "A Song For Ea"; which is a hefty 14 minutes and awkwardly stumbles through six segments. Despite ambition, the closing track is mired in misdirection and a disconnected atmosphere. This, of course, could be the one song which has fallen prey to Absu's continual line up changes and distance between band members.

It is no secret Absu is dedicating a trilogy of records to Enki, the Babylonian god of water. This deity plays an important role not only in Absu's lyrics but album art, which was illustrated by longtime collaborator Kris Verwimp. _Abzu_'s art brings the viewer closer to an imposing structure which now stands floating in a Lovecraftian sea.

A forthcoming record, _Apsu_, has been announced and will no doubt bring together more near eastern instrumentation as well as a whole heap of magik and dead gods. It is difficult to consider _Abzu_ a disappointment, especially when considering the amount of thought and work dedicated to the project. Many Absu fans still cling to 2001's _Tara_ as a highpoint and certainly other records fail to live to up to the expectation of craft. Secretly, I was hoping this record would be a knockout but after much consideration it is devastatingly above average.

Contact: http://www.absu.us/

(article published 30/9/2011)

8/12/2001 P Schwarz Absu: Celtic Carnage
9/14/1997 S Hoeltzel Absu: Across Ages Arcane
8/12/2001 G Filicetti 9.5 Absu - Tara
11/19/1998 A Wasylyk 7 Absu - In the Eyes of Ioldanach
3/16/1997 S Hoeltzel 9 Absu - The Third Storm of Cythraul
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