Abigor are back with their 9th album, which is sadly a continuation of the ideas on Leytmotif Luzifer. Hailing from Vienna in Austria, Abigor definitely have the style and look associated with their hometown but even in arguably their last bad work : Nacthymnen ( From the Twilight Kingdom) they have always lacked substance in comparison to the greats in the European black metal style. Leytmotif Luzifer was Deathspell Omega worship with the remnants of what could be qualified as generic second wave black metal. Here they continue in that substanceless yet somewhat more refined method of songcraft….
The production is the typical expensive home studio, sounding clear and powerful but sterile and weak and with all the grit not coming from the actual playing but from various high quality studio plugins. The rhythm guitar is especially plagued by this very obvious digital distortion that sounds weak in it’s pursuit of a more traditional guitar tone. Every instrument is layered far too many times while some of the vocals are pitch corrected. Each instrument is on time to the slightest millisecond making this sound like any Devin Townsend produced album and fully devoid of any personality.
The lead guitar directs the entirety of the music, never relenting and always present from the first note until the last note. Every other instrument apart from the vocals obeys the whims and desires of the lead guitar. Played through a variety of techniques ranging from dissonant arpeggio to fast Malmsteen-esque sixteenth note leads in the harmonic minor scale (and some particularly difficult staccato rhythms appear as well), the ideas from guitar’s perspective remain connected no matter how different and the changes never seem abrupt or random if one where to ignore everything else.
Metal is music composed primarily in the language of riffs, but what is important here is the quality of the riff itself and it’s relation with it’s predecessor and successor. Some of these riffs are fantastic… evoking Mercyful fate, Judas Priest, Emperor and early Sodom. The bass adds even more power to these riffs through small fills and an intelligent sense of harmonization by employing a more liberal choice of notes than what is common for a black metal band. The good riffs are stuck between filler riffs cut from the mold of Deathspell Omega and later Emperor, often sounding like Batyushka by existing solely to support the vocals and the lead guitar. Yet there is some other type of riffing present… This album is filled with… Metalcore riffs and breakdowns??? Ugh…. While they are played with slightly more subtlety than most that use them, the simplistic two notes breakdowns and simple minded low string chugging riffs are present and sound hilarious here.
Often a lack of potent riffs can be overcompensated for and overlooked by a proper arrangement. But unfortunately here this is not only far from being the case, and but also the greatest plague on this album: a complete lack of repetition and vision in the arrangement of these riffs. Keeping in continuity with most modern metal bands, the vocals tie the mess together through an oversaturated performance consisting of standard shrieks oversung tonal harmonies, some random spoken word parts and semi sung passages suitable for a musical comedy. The vocals really take centre stage here as they follow the lead guitar in the loosest of manners and function within their own logic, being omnipresent and never taking a secondary rôle, their impact quickly dwindles. The constantly layered vocals add nothing since there is no form of dynamics to be found and like all things in music, if there is only one volume present eventually that volume becomes the reference volume and that which the mind relegates to the status of background noise. Drums follow the metalcore pattern of accentuating the strong beat and playing with expectations, following the standard set by all modern metal the drums are loud but since everything else is loud they are hard to distinguish. Once the initial illusion is pierced the sudden realization that every song is built using the same formula. Lead guitar moves the music in random directions while drums guitar and bass follow blindly, vocals are arranged in their own manner by just being in the same key and tempo as the lead guitar, random breakdown or groovy riff appears and then the lead guitar does something else. This therefore creates the inability to tell where a song is to start or stop since the riff orders alludes to absolutely nothing.
If art is supposed to communicate then Abigor fail here completely, the comedic cookie-cutter lyrics refer to Satan and emptiness with absolutely no feeling of defiance or entropy. This is black metal made for a modern metal state of mind. The riffs lead to absolutely no moment of tension, no climax and no release at all. Following their obvious idols Deathspell Omega, this Austrian duo have continued the tradition in nu-black metal to allow the atmosphere come through the texture of the music rather than the composition. For anyone who has heard metal already and grown past Hollywood horror movies and blockbuster video games this is not in any way threatening nor dangerous music, just an extension of pop culture sensationalism infiltrating it’s way into what was once the most destructive form of art to ever grace human minds.
Black metal has been dead for a long time now, consuming itself rapidly in it’s awe inspiring intensity. While most modern black metal bands continue rehashing the works of the past with slightly different aesthetics or by introducing rock music, there is also a section of artists who think that by being overtly different they are improving the genre and taking it towards new avenues whilst the reality is that they just parading a once majestic dead horse beaten for far too long into a freak show full of liberals ,clowns and people who genuinely hate the essence of black metal.
Abigor have had nothing to say for almost twenty years and have lowered themselves to using technique, syncopated rhythm and guitar virtuosity to give the most hollow impression of evil possible. This music needs to be forgotten and erased from our collective memories as quickly as possible as it is the the modern version of 90’s hot topic goth metal but even worse (if you can fathom), allowing metal not to be consumed by entropy but by the void of consumerism. The intentions of this album may not be bad but by attempting to find originality in aesthetics and gimmicks this release has doomed itself to being Macdonalds Iphone metal.