Absu – Abzu
Starting with Emperor’s Reverence EP, this is the kind of music that ruined black metal: salad. It’s mixed riffs and influences with no coordination except repetition, and it adopts the “carnival music” style of variety show riffs, meaning that nothing makes sense as anything other than a grab bag of random stuff designed to distract you. As a result, this has zero staying power and while your favorite metal heroes will be hyping it today, they will from that day forward only put it on to do laundry. Get it? As background noise. It’s less organized than the noise from your air conditioner as and a result is mostly spam for your brain, just as pop music is. The cynicism behind releasing this and calling it “black metal” suggests a massive scorn for all metal fans. “These idiots can’t tell the difference, throw some guitar practice at them, then we’ll sample an elevator and let the press release talk about our ‘industrial influences.’” Metal pundits should be ashamed for pushing this as a continuation of the old school, or even as being good; I would use the first few Absu albums to show my friends that metal is talented, but I wouldn’t push this sophomoric dog’s breakfast on anyone. In fact I’d hide it, lest they think metalheads are cretins who think random catchy off-time riffs make a band talented. I realize it’s heresy to not cheerlead for Absu because the Absu guys are such nice fellows and all, but that has nothing to do with musical quality. This sucks. It’s annoying. And dumb. Really stupid. You have to live in a plastic world to think this is good. 0/10
Asphyx – Deathhammer
I had high hopes for this, but an unsettling feeling with Wannes Gubbels having left the band. During the Wannes years, Asphyx went from trying to make two riff songs that carried themselves on pure rhythm, and instead tried to make mood shifting experiences that used melody and harmony as well as greater texture to create a sense of having gone somewhere. This new song is entirely circular. It goes nowhere; its precepts equal its conclusions. Instead, you get a horrifically catchy song that is pure rhythm and uses melody only as a hook but then drops it, leaving you in grinding chromatic land as your brain atrophies. They cannot possibly say “deathhammer” one more time can — oh. Oh. And again. Again. Oh. It keeps on going. This song is only 2:30 or so, but it feels like The War of the Roses. As one forum poster noted, this may be a Hail of Bullets song more than an Asphyx song. Gone is the old school heavy mood. It has been replaced by dressed-up pop. It’s as repetitive as Justin Bieber, and that isn’t lightened by the fact that these guys howl about the joy of endless war instead of teeny sugar pop training-bra romances. Asphyx has completely lost direction and forgotten what made them great, which was not “smashing riffs” but “smashing riffs in epic songs.” Even the riffs are dumbed down, like the recent Pestilence output. I have zero incentive to buy the album or even download it.