Absu - Apzu Review
by Matt Hensch
Absu took their damn sweet time releasing their eponymous opus back in 2009, but the ancient deity refused to make its followers wait another eight years for new material, thankfully. The second album of another conceptual cycle (about occultism) dubs itself “Apzu,” another collection of ravenous black metal embracing the same lyrical identities its opening chapter preached back in 2009. In terms of musicality, it is an Absu album: harsh and heavy, bestial and bloody. As a fan of the band, I have no quarrel with this offering, but it clearly does not match nor represent the sheer magic of the group’s previous efforts, instead taking the role of an acceptable release rather than a legendary one. Overall, “Apzu” fundamentally represents the legacy and longevity of Absu through its themes of occultism and slicing black/thrash metal, although there are intervals of lacking material and downright boring numbers that are uncharacteristic of this majestic faction.
Writing an album so quickly after such a previous lapse must have been burdensome upon the minds and hearts of Proscriptor and his legions, yet still the Absu machine rolls onward. The six tracks follow a neat nexus connecting the unrelenting fury of black metal and the frenzied vibe of apocalyptic doom often riding on the hide of vehement thrash, much like Absu’s self-titled record. There are not many differences among the testaments, and many will notice that Absu’s originality may be running dry, but hey, it still kicks ass. The band has no problem taking the listener on an intergalactic rodeo of blackened destruction that opens vortexes between worlds with absurdly hostile numbers like “Earth Ripper” or the festival of maniacal violence that is “Abraxas Connexus.” So yea, some things thankfully never change. The only real dud is “Ontologically, it Became Time and Space,” which falls perfectly into a chameleonic void of nothingness, looking like something the average black/thrash band could write and use as filler. Otherwise, you know what you’re getting yourself into, and please note Absu is not in the mercy business.
The main attraction is, of course, “A Song for Ea.” Of the thirty-six minutes that is “Apzu,” nearly fifteen find refuge in what is the longest song in Absu’s gallery of art, taking the listener on a journey through the sands and waters of black/thrash metal layered deep in the lyrical chasms of occult nightmares. Sound cool? Well, prepare for some disappointment: it really isn’t. Stylistically speaking, “A Song for Ea” accurately represents the core philosophies of “Apzu” with an extra side of progressive elements placed suitably between the many riffs and transitions occupying what many will consider Absu’s prime epic; of course, fine moments are plentiful and blooming as one might expect. Still, I’m kind of left feeling like it lacks the degree of attractiveness long tracks need, and it tends to carry its excess baggage carelessly once in a while.
However, experts are not needed to list the obvious flaws and pains of this otherworldly song; the transitions, for instance, are glued together so poorly it almost sounds like six or seven tracks pieced together at random, an unacceptable feat coming a band that formerly penned a number of epics with elegance and prose. Most of the remaining tracks range from acceptable to downright fantastic, so Absu still walks away with another winner under their belts, albeit one that shows signs of mild deterioration. Maybe “Apzu” would obtain a closer place in my heart if they would’ve cut out one of the questionable numbers or just made the release a smidge shorter instead of forcing anthems. I mean, an EP wouldn’t hurt that much, right guys?
Absu - Apzu
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