It’s been well over three years since ABBATH’S self-titled debut album was released. I still have fond memories of doing my review on a Friday night in Philly as snow barreled down upon us. The setting was perfect, and the record damn near was too. Fast forward to today and the band is back with Outstrider, out now on Season of Mist. By the way there have been some line-up changes, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. First of all let’s talk about Mia Wallace. The bassist’s resume includes TRIUMPH OF DEATH and THE TRUE ENDLESS, and I think her tone is just right for this music. She packs a serious punch with her bass lines!
Ole André Farstad’s guitar playing complements Abbath’s very well, and drummer Ukri Suviletho knows how to mix it up, laying down the blast beats where needed while other times just grooving away. Never once does he overplay and he controls the pacing quite often. Songwise we open things with “Calm In Ire (Of Hurricane)” and it’s exactly what we would want and expect from a pioneer of Norwegian Black Metal. It’s cold, dark, and bleak, just like life. “Bridge of Spasms” is a thunderous track and also one of the record’s best. Abbath’s full-bodied throat bellows truly add to the evil vibe of the music. Meanwhile “The Artifex” goes full on wrecking-ball-swinging-into-condemned-building mode from beginning to end!
First single “Harvest Pyre” showed that there was a slight shift in songwriting, and that production was better. Some Black Metal albums really suffer when the production is shitty, and too tinny. On this one you can feel every thump, from the bass to the kick drum, right there in your chest. And there’s no better example than this track right here. It’s a great fucking song, case closed. “Outstrider” is great from beginning to end, as is next number “Scythewinder,” with the latter being another instant favorite. “Land of Khem” shows the band going nuts on their respective instruments, while “Hecate” bathes itself in the blood of its enemies, savoring every drop.
Closing the disc is a cover of BATHORY’S “Pace Till Death” that is absolutely fantastic. I keep coming back to this one again and again. So when all’s said and done ABBATH have given us another great record. It hits in all the right places, and shows that the debut wasn’t just a fluke. More greatness is coming from this band, guys. And I cannot fucking wait till their upcoming tour with OBITUARY gets to Philly. Pick up your copy of Outstrider today and bask in the Black Metal greatness. Who knows? It just might cool you off in this godawful summer heat!!
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Harvest Pyre”, “Scythewinder”, “Bridge of Spasms”, “The Artifex”, “Pace Till Death”