Abbath – Outstrider
After last years brilliant return to form with the Demonaz lead version of Immortal, there’s of course a ton of bricks resting on Black Metal’s own Dennis the menace, Abbath Doom Occulta’s, spike clad shoulders, leaving him with not much choice but to show that he at least is up to pair with his former band mate.
To be honest, Abbath’s earlier solo escapades have made a moderate impression on me, leaving me quite unsatisfied with both the first Abbath-album as well as with “I”, and after a few spins of the new album, “Outstrider” I must say that I’m still unimpressed.
At first I was annoyed with Ole André Farstads guitar solos, that, although extremely well performed, I found destroying any attempt to get that grim Black Metal-feeling but I think I’ve must have gotten used to them, now finding them to fit in pretty good in Abbaths not so evil, not deadly serious, take on Black Metal and luckily “Outstrider” as an album seems to grow on me as well, because after some further sessions with the new album I start to change opinion in some of the tracks, if ever so slightly.
The opener, “Calm in Ire (Of Hurricane)” is a typical, late Immortal-sounding bit that, even if its not bad, doesn’t do mush for me, but already in the second track, “Bridge of Spasms” things gets better! The riffs in the song are killer and although Abbath does his best Attila Csihar (Mayhem) imitations, the result is more Death- than Black Metal, and the song is really good! Third track, “The Artifex” continue delivering the good stuff, mixing speedy Death Metal-riffing with early Bathory-esque madness. The real deal in other words and, not taking any eventual covers in account, the best track on the album!
“Outstrider” continue with “Harvest Pyre”, a quite anonymous, neither bad, neither good song but in the fifth tack, “Land of Khem” the “deal breaker” is delivered… The verse/theme/refrain is some of the most catchy stuff I’ve ever heard in Black Metal and I constantly find my self humming on them, either it being the first thing in the morning or the last moment before sleep.
Unfortunately, even if I find “Land of Khem” impossible to get out of my head, I hate it. Sure the rest of the song is ok, but the theme of this song almost destroys the whole record for me. Abomination!
The title track “Outstrider” is a typical, epic, although surprisingly short, Abbath-tune. At first it was the song I liked the best on the album, and I still find it to be ok, but a actually, although its relative shortness, it’s a bit tedious, making “Scythewinder” a welcome return to a faster pace, and it’s a really nice number and as well is the last “own” song, the merciless high speed grinder, “Heacate”.
Last out is a cover of Bathory’s “Pace Till Death”, a pretty surprising choice if you ask me (not the fact that they cover Bathory but the song itself) and they perform a killer version of the track. Although this is far from my favourite Bathory song, this is, without any major competition, the best track on the album, and even if the performance is brilliant It’s a bit sad that they get out shined by a cover although I guess the fact that it’s the mighty Bathory might give some comfort…
I really want to like this album as much as I liked Immortal’s “Northern Chaos Gods” but although I don’t find Abbath winks to traditional Heavy Metal on “Outstrider” as obvious and annoying as, in example, on the “I”-album, “Outstrider” still doesn’t reach the full mile. Sure there are some great songs here but all in all it’s a bit dull. I hesitate a bit between giving it a weak seven or a strong six but the fact that I hate some parts of “Land of Khem” to the guts, I’ll settle to a six.
Sorry Abbath, a decent album but honestly I’m sure you could deliver much better, after all, you are still a Son of Northern darkness!
Label: Season of Mist
Date of release: 5/7-19
Playing time: 35:11
Stand out track: Pace Till Death (Bathory cover)