Originally written by Erik Thomas
When influential or legendary bands return from a lengthy hiatus, the results can either be positive as heard on Gorefest’s La Muerte, Grave’s Back From the Grave and Celtic Frost’s Monotheist for example. Or they can be somewhat disappointing based on the band’s status, legacy and expectations such as Obituary’s Frozen In Time, Cynic’s Traced in Air (waits for HUGE flame war), Suffocation’s Souls to Deny, Dissection’s Reinkaos, andAngelcorpse’s Of Lucifer and Lightning, just to name a few. So when you are arguably the grandfather of American black metal with such seminal releases as The Sun of Tiphareth, The Third Storm of Cythraul and Tara, the pressure is most definitely on, even more so when there is only one remaining original member.
So here is Proscriptor, notably sans bassist Equitant and guitarist Shaftiel, 8 years after the lauded Tara and in an era where American black metal has arguably caught up with their European counterparts, so the novelty of the Celtic black metal thrash act now has to stand on the merit of its music alone. Luckily Absu does just that, albeit with a slightly different gloss and sound from the band’s previous works. I’ll be the first to admit, Absunever truly struck a chord with me. I enjoyed their releases but I never put them on the pedestal that many did–but of course that was 8 years ago and I’m sure revisiting Tara now will garner a different response than it did back then.
However, with an 8 year lay off, as hard as it is, Absu must be viewed as a single entity, no matter how hard it is to compares to glories past. And that’s where Absu shines-not as an Absu album, not as a follow up to Tara, but as a slightly experimental black/thrash album. Truth be told, if you threw on this album blindly, there is nothing about it that would make you instantly recognize it as Absu, which is a boon in my opinion. The production is cleaner, the blackened melodies are stronger and the structures are more restrained. In fact, only the esoteric and word song titles (i.e. “…of the Dead Who Never Rest in Their Tombs Are the Attendance of Familiar Spirits Including: A.) Diversified Signs Inscribed B.) Our Earth of Black/C.Voor,” “In the Name of Auebothiabathabaithobeuee”) could give this away as Absu.
The growth of melody and control is readily apparent from the get go as on opener “Between the Absu of Eridu & Erech,” “Amy,” “Those of the Void Will Re-Enter” and epic stand out “Sceptre Command,” but in between, Proscriptor still has a grasp of blistering ‘Mythological Occult Metal’ such as “Night Fire Canonization,” “Nunbarshegunu,” “13 Globes,” “In the Name of Auebothiabathabaithobeueeas” and “Girra’s Temple” as well as a quirky sense of experimentation like the proggy psychedelic synth spasm that closes “Of the Dead Who Never Rest…,” or the choppy, ritualistic throes of “Magic(k) Square Cipher” and “Ye Uttuku Spells.” However, at 53 minutes, the album does drag on a bit, which is a shame as by the time “Sceptre Command” rolls around some listeners might have switched off.
Despite the fact that the impact of Absu’s return has simply been lessened by the likes of Averse Sefira, Krallice, Wolve in the Throne Room, Cobalt and such who have upped the ante for American black metal while Absu was gone, overall, have to rank Absu as a successful comeback, but hardly a groundbreaking return to glory and follow up to Tara, which I don’t think an Equitant and Shaftiel -less Absu could have ever delivered, despite Proscriptor’s best efforts.