CD Review

Absu - “Mythological Occult Metal: 1991 – 2001”

By Marcus Pan

Mythological Occult MetalAbsu, aka the Cythraul Klan, claim to have invented a genre of black/death metal known as “mythological occult metal.” That doesn’t sound like much a genre in and of itself – just a fancy way of telling us their subject matter. While the band is on hiatus and no album is due “any time soon,” Absu have decided to appease their fans by releasing the Mythological Occult Metal: 1991 – 2001 double CD that includes rarities of their work over a period of a decade.

Faster and faster and faster squeak the guitars as they go balls out throughout this 2 CD set. The Gold Torques of Ulaid kick off the chronology with speed and guts, and though I’m not quite sure what they’re saying it’s definitely something mythological indeed. Never Blow Out the Eastern Candle gets us to the type of metal I’ve listened to in my youth, with well played, if a little bland, riffwork and guitar. The vocal work takes the black metal burp gurglings that heavy-handed fans of that genre enjoy. Similar style on Stone of Destiny, but here the sound is much better produced and mastered. Vocals at some points are the high wail that gave metal, in its hey-day, its power and depth…very nice. The first three tracks, of which these past two discussed are included, are labeled as Rarities & Alternate Versions.

On the section from The Temples of Offal, the music gets somewhat unbearable at the start. Growling vocals that can’t seem to get in sync with the music – probably because the instruments are played so fast that there’s no way to sync with them. Unimpressive at best – and this is just the first of those three, Immortal Sorcery. With Sumerian Sands (The Silence) we have more of the same, with the drummer doing a decent job but everyone else kind of off on their own. I’m verily unimpressed with this, which according to their press is their earlier works anyway, so we’ll continue on and see what else is up.

Two songs labeled as And Shineth Unto the Cold Cometh begin with an almost folk-ambient style, very nice placement after the battering amateurism of The Temples of Offal. But then it stops being nice and goes into another barrage of too-fast guitars, though vocal work here isn’t as rumbling and takes on a higher pitch. Does a better job of hooking up with the rest of the musicians too. Through Hallstattian Swords, the last section of the first disc, we have various ambient pieces depicting battles of one type or another – like the swordfight surrounded by Excalibur like music in The Great Battle Moving From Ideal to Actual, a track name which I’m assuming is an example of bad translation.

The second disc of the Mythological Occult Metal collection contains three more separate sections – Covers, Live and Unreleased in that order. Iron Maiden’s classic old metal dirge, Transylvania, is covered in the first section quite well. Solid, tight and well played. It’s in tracks like this you notice that Absu are great musicians, it’s just hard to tell when they just speed it up so much it gets smooshed. While this version of Transylvania is certainly faster than Dickinson & crew’s original, it’s not as quickly played as Absu’s original music here on this 2 disc set. Sometimes you swear it was sped up via mastering – if not, then these guys are excellent players. The disc starts off, however, with Deathcrush which has some interesting and well done tribal beat work as a good introduction.

The live cuts are raw and unedited. The drum work that opens The Winter Zephyr is fast and greatly played making me think that the drummer might have 4 or more arms. All decently done I guess, if you’re into that sort of thing. The Unreleased section meanwhile consists of Book of Splendour and Tasscomancy.

The bottom line is simple – Mythological Occult Metal: 1991 – 2001 is certainly a worthwhile record. Fans of Absu will surely enjoy the live, unreleased and rarities samplings especially. Technically the band is solid and you can certainly see their music mature and grow other ambient and experimental nuances as it moves along. Black metal has never been quite my bag, though, so I’m going to pass this along.

Contact Information:
The End Records
Post: 331 Rio Grande #58, SLC, UT, 84101, USA
Phone: (801) 355-0963
E-Mail: ebprint@sympatico.ca
Web: www.theendrecords.com

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