• Absu - Mythological Occult Metal: 1991-2001 (2005)

     

    Absu have been a very creative, highly influential and pretty diversified band in the extreme metal genre and delivered a couple of strong records during the first ten years of their career. When the band went on a well merited hiatus, they decided to give the old and new fans some vital signs by releasing this lovely compilation of two discs in a pretty digibook including a detailed booklet with precise song informations and band photos from the early years up to their latest full length release.

    On this release, the band varies from epic diversified blackened thrash metal anthems over atmospheric doom influenced instrumentals to a handful of well done cover songs that mix the originality of the originals with the typical Absu sound plus a few live tracks filled with a captivating raw energy. Personally, I'm not that much into extreme metal genres such as black or death metal but Absu have always been a very intense band that was courageous enough to try out things other bands didn't so that almost any metal fan of any sub genre will find a couple of tracks he or she likes on this compilation. It's a great look back and definitely a better alternative to a shallow greatest hits release for the old fans but also a brilliant introduction to those who are new to the band or have only known them with their latest outputs after the hiatus. This record inspires to check out the band's other releases without a doubt.

    The record includes many excellent songs but I would like to point out one of each section. Concerning the rarities and alternate versions, the track "Stone Of Destiny" definitely shines. The original version was included on "Tara" and this verison here is one of the most diversified extreme metal tracks I have ever heard. Slow and brutally controlled death metal vocals in the key of Death meet high screams reminding me of King Diamond. Narrative passages in the middle part add a lyrical depth to the track and build up some atmospere without being overused and too conceptual. The diversified drumming definitely stands out through the whole song and goes from soft high hat passages over dynamical mid tempo passages up to pitiless high speed bits and pieces. The drums definitely build the whole dynamical structure of this killer track. This song is definitely one of my favourite Absu songs ever.

    The three tracks featured with "The Temples Of Offal" are some of the earliest recordings of the band when they played straight death metal. Even these raw tracks already include fantastic breaks and never get boring musically even though I don't appreciate the vocals very much. The track "Immortal Sorcery" would be my favourite pick as it varies from incredibly fast passages to mid tempo passages that could also please to a thrash or groove metal maniac. The distorted guitar sounds in the middle passage are definitely a welcome experiment.

    "And Shineth Unto The Cold Cometh" features a more prominent use of atmospheric synthesizer sounds and chilling acoustic guitars that build a stunning contrast to the first tracks on the first disc. There are still extreme metal passages of course which are pretty fast and feature a clearly improved and more unqiue vocal performance that sounds like blackened thrash. The title track is the better of both songs in my humble opinion and never gets boring in seven minutes.

    "Hallstattian Swords" feature three previously unreleased tracks that are clearly written for a soundtrack and build up a lot of atmosphere with different folk passages, a dominating use of keyboard samples and noises of sword fights in some moments. While the songs are not so spectacular from a purely musical point of view, they are very atmospheric. I would cite "The Great Battle Moving From Ideal To Actual" as the most impressive song in this section. This one is without a doubt the most epic one.

    Concerning the cover songs, they all sound great but even though I am a huge Iron Maiden fan, I would rather pick the band's interpretation of Mayhem's "Deathcrush Including Silvester Anfang" as it is the most atmospheric and energizing track and simply fits to the world of Absu.

    The "Live" tracks are taken from concerts in Germany, Italy and France in 1995 and 1997 and display the band's raw energy of the early years. My favourite track is the slow and quite heavy "The Coming Of War" that builds up a menacing and powerful atmosphere that is regularly interrupted by impressive speed passages.

    Concering the "Unreleased" songs, they have been recorded live during a rehearsal back in 1993 and are only instrumental. While both songs are maybe a little bit overlong and sound a little bit incomplete without vocals, I still prefer the longer track "Book Of Splendour" because the track sounds more diversified and includes many good basis ideas on which one could develop something even greater.

    In the end, this diversified compilation is pretty entertaining and shows in an impressive way how one can use extreme metal in many different, original and even progressive ways. Absu definitely are among my favourite bands in this genre and apart of some unfinished tracks and a couple of more or less great sounds concerning the earliest recordings where the musical talent of the band can't shine as bright as on later studio releases, there's nothing wrong at all with this authentic document of a fascinating decade. Anyone who cares a little bit for extreme metal music should without a doubt call this compilation his or her own as this is a true genre highlight of an outstanding band.

     

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