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Absu - Barathrum: Visita Interiora Terra Rectificando Invenies Occultum Lapidem
Review: Texan metal usually either resembles speed/heavy metal regardless of aesthetic genre influence, or sounds like Swedish death metal from the late eighties. Absu combine the two elements, sounding like a Scandinavian death metal band with a black metal ideal and some death metal adaptations in the Western hemisphere style (a good band to compare in terms of approach would be Hypocrisy, who have a similar mix of influences but a different take on the their aesthetic).
Played quickly, with a melodic line running behind some dark riffs, the music uses simple death metal riffs with melodic aspects on about every third riff. Death metal influences riff structure, which follows the standard all-phrasing little tonality idea that most of that genre embrace, but in the melodic undertones and dark cadences there is potent black metal atmosphere, something reinforced by the unearthly high-end scream laid down as a vocal track.
Riffing originates in distinctive pattern shuffling derived from the simple elements of power chords, although it mirrors some ideas of (oddly enough) speed metal, in the rhythmic and recursive aspects. Nothing here that Slayer has not done better, and it leaves the album somewhat unsatisfying. What leads this album to a sustained energy are the loquacious drums, which despite being sometimes overplayed contribute a jazz-based mood of suspense ending in indulgent battery that complements the esoteric feel of riffs whose transitions are not obvious until considered in retrospect.
Overall a good album in the vein of Bestial Warlust, Blasphemy, Impaled Nazarene or other simple grindcore- and death-metal-influenced black metal bands whose primary focus is rhythm and theatre, it remains at heart a death metal album with hybrid heavy metal elements that are fainter here than later Absu works. The added vocals, female and male, and the strange ceremonial nature didn't do it for me as the music sounded like the same core elements I've heard so often, slightly rearranged and dressed in a tribal format. I like this stuff for what it is but it lacks the profundity of Scandinavian releases, both in musical and aesthetic arrangement.