Black metal has become nearly as big a genre as metal itself. And fans of black metal have so many varied and different types to choose from: atmospheric, ambient, blackened death, black thrash, pagan black, progressive black, symphonic black, and…well, you get the picture. It’s nearly impossible to find music that is simply BLACK METAL being made these days. Well on that front, we’ve been blessed this year with not only what is arguably Archgoat’s best release to date, but now as well we have Abominator, another veteran of the scene, releasing what is arguably their best work to date in the new album, Evil Proclaimed.
But before we get into that, I would like to briefly discuss blast beats. To save ourselves a few paragraphs of descriptions, and a whole bunch of time, let’s just agree to adopt this terminology. Now Abominator is neither European nor American in origin—in fact, they’re from Melbourne—but they uses a myriad of blasts throughout Evil Proclaimed. Although the album opens with American blast beats (which may result in another #BlastGate2015) the band primarily uses the European style.
This is significant because the two styles conjure a very different set of tense imagery for the listener. An American blast beat is urgent, rushed and chaotic as all the parts of the drums are beating together. It’s ritualistic in its intensity. The European blast beat, in which the snare and kick alternate, creates a similarly chaotic feeling, but since it’s more of a “beat” than a “blast,” the feeling is somewhat more bouncy and rational than its American counterpart. Abominator uses both to perfection. When a song calls for tension, a brief American blast is utilized; when it needs a groove, the European counterpart is inserted. This adds structure and perspective to their chaos—the band has direction.
As I said before, Abominator are hardly new to the scene. They have been making sensory obliterating music since 1994. Now officially a two-piece featuring Chris Volcano (drums, vocals) and Andrew Undertaker (guitars), the band’s got much better production than we’ve heard in the past, and is more focused and able to more clearly communicate their vision. With Volcano handling the vocals (at least on the recording), the band’s lyrics are clearer than they have ever been. That said, despite the enhanced production, the songwriting has not taken the leap that many fans may have been looking for. This fact isn’t a killer, since Abominator have always been relatively awesome, but it’s potentially not progressive enough for some.
For me, the standout has to be, “The Devil’s Pandemonium”—probably because the middle of the track bops out to some old school death metal double bass. It’s not often that a black metal band drops the hammer and makes you bang your head, so when it happens I make sure to step back and appreciate it. The title track offers another highlight; it’s straight ahead burning black metal, rife with blast beats galore. Other tracks like “Re-Birth of the Arch Nemesis” and “Black Mass Warfare” showcase a longer format (around six minutes each), but remain cohesive throughout, with just enough tweaks to arouse your senses.
Overall, the enhanced production value augments the band’s sound immeasurably. Whereas before, Abominator had production that felt a bit metalcore-like around the edges, they now have a sound that is fundamentally thick, pounding black metal. This is a fantastic boon for Abominator, as their songwriting lends itself to this production value much more than their previous tin-foil, digital-sounding double-bass style. The more analog, organic sound production, combined with the clear vocals of Volcano certainly take Abominator over the hump—even without much forward movement on the songwriting side.