Abaddon magazine

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Monday, September 26, 2022

Review: Abbath – Dread Reaver

Label: Season of Mist

Date: March 25th, 2022

Being convinced that the world would be exactly the same place without ever hearing “Northern Chaos Gods”, I was never quite convinced Abbath was doing any better than his former band mates. Apparently, the Abbath / Demonaz / Horgh fixture is the one that created magic. One without the other two (or vice versa) failed to catch me as needed.

Still, far be it for me to say a negative word about the latest Immortal record. It’s still good, but it’s derivative, repetitive and far from the magical landscapes it should have portrayed. The same goes for the lone cowboy of the north. Without commenting on the ego behind naming the band I or after his own pseudonym, the music conceived on the three previous Abbath solo records is decent. I mean, there are hundreds of bands that would kill to be able to create such albums, but for Abbath it is, in my opinion, just slacking off.

However, one must admire the courage to follow his own gut feeling. The man could’ve gone for the sure thing, like Immortal did (and got backfired). Instead, Abbath does incorporate a lot of what made Immortal such a monument on the black metal scene, but “Dread Reaver”, perhaps even more than its predecessors, takes on a couple of more traditional heavy metal solutions.

Okay, it was never a secret that the man himself is a big fan of Motörhead. His taste for British heavy metal of the 1980’s is heavily present on “Dread Reaver”. Not just Lemmy and his crew. Saxon or Judas Priest are there. Even more so, Mr. Halford’s solo records, with a mechanic taste here and there. Particularly in the drums, when they go for the mid-tempo heaviness, but also in some guitar and vocal arrangements. Don’t know about you, but it still sounds strange to me, such a mixture. Interesting, but strange.

Including a Metallica cover, especially from that early age when they too borrowed heavily from new wave of British heavy metal, adds to the feel. “Trapped under Ice” and especially its title, fit perfectly to the figure of the ice lord of Norway, and the song is further adapted to the needs of a black metal record. The song also accentuates the thrash metal influences on “Dread Reaver”. These are less notable than the traditional heavy metal ones, but are present.

But aside the cover, the record contains eight tracks that carry an epic feeling. The massive soundscape echoes through the perilous, unsurmountable mountain peaks. Menacing atmosphere surrounds each note and though the album is not as cold as Abbath usually makes it, it does run chill down the listener’s spine. The story told in the lyrics about the sole Spartan survivor on Thermopylae somewhat explains the epic and monumental outcome of music on “Dread Reaver”.

This atmospheric impact, unfortunately, remains the one thing I’m taking away from the album. Unfortunately, since I expected more. I’m sticking to what I opened this review with. The riff machine Abbath was, is in dire need of oil change, cleaning and tuning up. I need to remember more than the fact that there was an album called “Dread Reaver”. That thunderous riffing is almost completely gone and that’s the biggest disappointment of the record. Just not catchy enough.

Will the three of them at last sit together in an igloo, turn on the weather channel and get back to what they do best? I hope so.