Satanized (A Journey Through Cosmic Infinity)
~reviewed by Eric Rasmussen
There comes a time in every black metal band's life where they need to hang up their cloaks and wipe off the corpse paint in order to pursue other sounds. In today's music scene, even the truest black metal bands are starting to sound less than intense - we've heard it all before, many, many times. Yet Abigor has managed to stay at the top of their game in this scene, and it should be no surprise that "Satanized (A Journey Through Cosmic Infinity)" shows them taking some risks and developing an even more unique sound.
The first thing you'll notice in glancing through the "Satanized" booklet is that the album isn't just your typical devilish black metal release. The sub-title of "A Journey Through Cosmic Infinity" signifies something a bit more in the sci-fi vein - there's no room for corpse paint here! Looking through the booklet some more, that initial assumption is only confirmed. Abigor's heavily satanic lyrics are now hovering somewhere near the Milky-way. Song titles like "Satan's Galaxy" and "Battlestar Abigor" best show the more space-oriented take on mayhem and satan that Abigor opted for this time around. Even the pictures of the band are different than before. You can see the members standing in front of a backdrop of space instead of starting fires in a forest.
So how has this impacted the music? In a few ways, all of which I think are positive. From the album's opening sample of a man saying something like "Welcome to the leading edge in brain mind technology," to the very ominous sounding keyboards, you can tell you're in for a new interpretation of hardcore black metal. The production is also a lot clearer than past Abigor releases, allowing for a slightly less fuzzy but overall heavier sound. The mixing separates the guitar work very effectively so you can hear Peter K.'s twin leads and kickass rhythm guitar. I don't know how he manages to come up with so many interesting riffs, especially when he's handling all lead and rhythm guitars for this release.
"Repulsor" is a great example of his ability to write many memorable guitar lines and keep things exciting. The song varies between really fast and melodic guitar leads to a thrashier sort of rhythm guitar, and even incorporates some elements of technical death metal to break things up a bit. Nearly every riff in the song is suitable for headbanging, though the unexpected timing changes and variations in the playing style are bound to give even the most experienced of headbangers a challenge. In fact, amateurs are better off not exceeding any sort of general nodding to accompany the music - I really believe trying to keep up with the guitars on "Satanized" could throw someone's neck out of alignment in no time.
Another standout track is "Battlestar Abigor." It has some great thrash-oriented riffs and some really frenzied lead playing that gives it a chaotic feel. It's also noteworthy for having what is destined to be one of the greatest metal choruses of all time. Thurisaz LiD leaves behind his rasp to go all out in a shouted chorus about Battlestar Abigor.
"Galaxies and Eons Decline" shows off Abigor's ability to mix in some atmospheric tension with all the chaotic black metal intensity. The song slows down at several points and some eerie sounding keyboards and guitar accompany a rather foreboding bass line. This eventually leads into some creepy spoken words that are bound to keep listeners on edge.
Each of the following tracks is equally awesome, though some of the playing in "Luminescence of Darkness" really shows off Peter K.'s ability. In one of the stereo channels there is one of his trademark chaotic melodies, and running along side it in the other channel is a heavier power chord version. Sometimes it can take a few listens to appreciate all of the guitar lines and variations on them you'll hear throughout this album, but the mixing makes it a lot easier to hear than previous Abigor releases.
Even though the guitar work is what most stands out and defines Abigor's sound, the drumming here is able to keep up flawlessly. Mortiz N. of Korova and Korovakill is handling drum duties, and anyone familiar with his past work knows he's used to demolishing his drum kit along with even the most insane timing changes Korova could come up with. The production on the drumming gives it a rumbling, undefined sort of sound that fits the music perfectly. The vocal performance is my only real complaint about "Satanized." The rasping starts to lose its intensity throughout the CD because Thurisaz rarely varies his recitation of the lyrics. It might be extreme when you're first exposed to it, but it becomes common place by the end of the album. When he does break out of the limitations of that rasp, however, he manages to keep things entertaining. The eerie spoken parts and the epic clean choruses add a lot to the Abigor sound. With any luck, he'll expand on that for future releases, or at least vary his rasps some more.
"Satanized" definitely isn't for everyone, but it's an excellent "hardcore black metal" release. I wouldn't be surprised if true black metal elitists leave behind Abigor for expanding their sound and using production that allows one to actually hear the instruments - but I think anyone who has followed the recent work of Emperor or Immortal will be able to keep up. Anybody interested can check out a sample mp3 in Napalm Records' products section.
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