I'll be upfront- this is the first and only album I've heard by Absu, a Texan death-metal band that was formed in the late 80's/early 90's. So I can't really consider this album from the perspective of their back catalog, or tell you how they've grown as a band. I can say, however, that this is a great, complex, thrash-y blackened death metal album with occult, Lovecraftian & Sumerian/Mesopotamian themes. Make sense? No, not really to me, neither. When I first heard this album I wasn't quite sure how to categorize it- I was under the impression it was a black metal record, and it does sometimes veer close to the thrash-y black metal made by Darkthrone and other more stripped-down black metal acts. But despite some black metal flourishes, this is actually progressive death metal, filled with hook-y riffs, odd tempos, and intricate song structures. The band uses a variety of sounds, in addition to the shredding guitars and relentless drums: synthesizers, ceremonial Tibetan horn, "brake disc" (?), Greek horn, and vibraslap are all present as well. In a sense, Absu reminds me of Dødheimsgard, in that both bands are releasing confidently complex-yet-accessible albums, late into their respective careers. While the songs on "Absu" take abrupt turns, sometimes winding around at breakneck speeds only to suddenly morph into an over-the-top synthesizer solo, it never feels half-assed. I certainly never had the impression that the band didn't know exactly what they were doing, or being unnecessarily intricate for the sake of intricacy itself. Don't get me wrong, this is proggy as hell. But it's also immediately approachable. Proscriptor McGovern, the drummer/lyricist/vocalist, has put in time with like-minded Middle-Eastern-influenced death metal outfit Melechesh, and has ties as well to The Firstborn, so if you've heard either of those bands, it might give you an idea what Absu are about. But even if you haven't heard those other bands, as long as you enjoy varied, well-written and interesting death metal, you're likely to enjoy this. Definitely one of the best metal albums I've heard this year- I'm interested too in checking out their last album, "Tara", which came out in 2001.
Absu - Between the Absu of Eridu and Erech
Absu - Amy