Abbath continues to inject icy chaos into black metal, shows expanded colors on ‘Outstrider’

Photo by Francisco Munoz

Being a follower of any type of music means you have to remain fluid for changes, because they often come fast and furiously, and they don’t consider people’s feelings. When Abbath left Immortal, it felt like one of those seismic shifts that would leave both sides forever scarred and never the same again. How wrong those premonitions ended up being.

Last year, Immortal released “Northern Chaos Gods,” a record that’s still buzzing in our heads and holds its own with any selection in their catalog, and now Abbath comes swooping back with a killer second record “Outstrider” that manages to one-up his own band’s excellent 2016 self-titled debut. You pretty much know what to expect from Abbath, yet there’s so much more going on with this nine-track album that utterly stomps the ground and shakes the earth to its core. Abbath has a mostly reconfigured lineup along with him this time as joining him are lead guitarist Ole Andre Farstad, bassist Mia Wallace, and drummer Ukri Suvilehto, who provide a really solid foundation for the buzzing vocals and frosty black metal DNA. But the music also extends beyond black metal and opens up all kind of colors and opportunities, which helps make this such as fun, fiery record.

“Calm in the Ire (of Hurricane)” kicks off the record feeling like you’re literally in the midst of the storm with winds whipping, riffs speeding, and Abbath’s trademark snarl front and center. The tempo is punchy and chugging, while strong soloing scorches skin, and the track ends suddenly. “Bridge of Spasms” has powerful guitar work that drives hard, Abbath’s vocal buzzing in his throat, and some warped guitar work. The playing smears soot, while Abbath’s vocals are spat out, and the drums open a final assault, bringing the song to an abrupt end. “The Artifex” has drums pounding away, leading to the song tearing open and the vocals going for the throat. Great guitar work floods the scene and spirals away, while the back end of the song goes for speed and knocks you for a loop. “Harvest Pyre” trucks through the gates, with the vocals lacerating, and pure hell being generated. The chorus is simple, with Abbath howling, “Harvest pyre!” that should be easy enough to call back live, and the guitars light the way to the smashing finish.

“Land of Khem” has guitars dripping before the full deluge strikes, and gruffer vocals make their way in and leave bruises. The guitars soar into the sky, as gurgly vocals and mystical playing combine to shake up minds, while the song bleeds out into chaos. The title cut has a clean opening before things pound aggressively, and melody mixes in to add textures. The chorus is growl sung, while the playing sends shockwaves before clean guitars return and send the song out. “Scythewinder” is fast, with riffs coming at you at shocking intensity, furious vocals well up, and the track overwhelms. Abbath’s throaty “woah” feels like a guttural command forward, while the riffs leave devastation in their wake. “Hecate” has a weird start, sending echoes, before the track leans into a spirited assault that destroys. Abbath’s creaky growls scrape while the tempo leaves welts on flesh, and a dreamy guitar section emerges before the song ends with guitars wailing out. Up last is the band’s smoking cover of Bathory’s “Pace Till Death” from their “Blood Fire Death” album. As expected, the band gives it a sooty, savage makeover that’s full of piss and venom, the perfect way to end this fire-breathing album.

Abbath’s mission to prove himself and demonstrate just how much left he had in the tank gets another punishing boost with “Outstrider,” a record that’ll give you chills even in the midst of a hot summer. With a firm lineup in tow and with Abbath’s voice sounding deadlier than ever, this band should give everyone a run for their money as it hits the road. These songs are some of the nastiest of Abbath’s run, which is in no danger of ever ending.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/abbathband

To buy the album, go here: https://shopusa.season-of-mist.com/

Or here (International): https://shop.season-of-mist.com/

For more on the label, go here: http://www.season-of-mist.com/

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