Abazagorath – The Satanic Verses

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Label: Eternal Death

After almost twenty years of existence, USBM stalwarts Abazagorath are releasing their third album. In an era when many bands seem to release records simply for the sake of it, as if they are worried that if they don’t have something new each year they will be forgotten about, it’s a refreshing change of pace, and speaks volumes about the band’s belief in their music. The band have been around long enough to see trends come and go, and whilst the band have undoubtedly refined their sound since début EP Chanelling the Ethereal Moons, their core sound is still intact on The Satanic Verses, released by Eternal Death.

Drawing upon classic second wave influences – most notably early Dissection and Immortal, with a strong sense of melody but also of power and brutality – The Satanic Verses is an album that doesn’t forget the metal in black metal. As grim and Satanic as it all is, there is plenty here to get your head banging even as the record blasts you with grim, frost-bitten melodies and powerful drumming. Opening track “Mahound” is an excellent example, full of great guitar leads and riffs that demonstrate the power not just of black metal, but of metal as a whole, as well as shifts of tempo and emphasis to keep things interesting and the song moving forward. With just a hint of tasteful keyboards towards the end, it captures the excitement and spirit of the best melodic black metal that emerged in the 90’s, and the rest of the album does not disappoint either.

Songs such as the title track and “Return to Jahilia” exude an atmosphere that would have you believe the album was a product of the harsh north rather than New Jersey; said song also features a superb clean vocal section, full of emotion and power. Acoustic interlude “Ayesha” adds further atmosphere, and “The Angel Gabriel” is a largely mid-tempo stormer, conjuring visions of heresy and blasphemy that builds to a superb conclusion. Meanwhile, “A City Visible But Unseen” opens with a bass-line and sound that brings to mind Godflesh before more typical black metal sounds and melodies take command, demonstrating that, whilst Abazagorath clearly look to the past for inspiration, they are not blindly dogmatic in doing so.

But make no mistake, this is a thoroughly black metal album, firmly rooted in the 90’s without sounding derivative or uninspired – indeed, this is a wonderfully passionate, self-assured album. Think back to how this is the band’s third album in almost twenty years, and it becomes clear that Abazagorath only release music when they are ready to do so. The Satanic Verses has been well worth the wait, and is another in a growing line of excellent releases from Eternal Death.

The Satanic Verses is available for pre-order as a CD and t-shirt package from Eternal Death, and can also be pre-ordered digitally from Bandcamp, both versions for release on the 7th October.

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