Marching boots let the listener know right away: there will be no peace for you here on Abbath as To War! slams in with a stomping groove from drummer Creature as Abbath frames it with some seriously violent, ripping tri-tones. A minute in, and the entire rhythm section locks in and leads in to a blast beat that supports the vocals. This piece is all kinds of dramatic, and I swear that I hear a subtle nod to Tony Iommi at one point. It's these kinds of nods to their antecedents that often make Metal bands compelling to Disaster Amnesiac; paired with the sheer creativity displayed on the opener, To War! sets the tone for the Metal massacre that follows it.
Abbath stays locked in for Winterbane, as Creature continues to slay behind the kit, driving bassist King and Abbath toward a pounding 2/4 breakdown and a snapping bridge part which grinds out Power Metal riffs. King coaxes huge steel pole riffs from his bass and Abbath throws out more delicious dissonance before Creature pauses, signalling a return to the stomp. Headbanging fucking delights abound before some fine acoustic picking pairs with a half time breakdown, evidence of master song crafting and arrangement. Abbath's vocals are great on this ending tag, too.
Perhaps a bit more Iommi influence shows on the spiky lead guitar intro to Ashes of the Damned, a medieval lute sound after which the group quickly pulls out their Thrash chops, a "demonic storm" of pure Metal fury, punctuated by well-placed synth hits. This cut travels into a major chord anthemic zone for a brief moment before that doomed lute arises again, leading to a quick, thrashing outro. Disaster Amnesiac's perceptions are left on the side of the road, whipped by the frenzy into exhaustion.
The pace slows down, but certainly not the energy, for Ocean of Wounds. Creature sets things up with heavy tom tom pounding. The thick guitar and bass tones perch atop the beat as Abbath croaks out his lyrics. It all leads to one of the best hooks that Disaster Amnesiac has ever had the pleasure of hearing from Black Metal. Every time I hear it, my excitement level jumps up several notches. Abbath seem to know not to abuse a riff like this, as it's only utilized twice before the songs fades away. Disaster Amnesiac has already mentioned song craft, but dammit, I must do so again. Abbath is awash in astute examples of it, and one need look no further than Wounds for great examples of it.
Then again, one really should continue listening, as I suspect one would, for Count the Dead. A post-battle order, given in the rain, presumably reeking of blood and guts, starts the song off as Abbath rips out high end chords for King and Creature to lock in with. They march through the grimy field and into yet another great goddamn chorus, repeated twice, before another blast beat is set up. The group swirls around within the fast rhythm as Abbath intones Simon Dancaster's bloody lyrical vision and spurts out a great melodic solo. Dig on how rough his throat sounds on that last chorus. Dude ain't holding back, that's for sure.
Speedy double time Thrash pushes the next track, Fenrir Hunts, quickly out into the air. Creature breaks things down while never losing sight of the beat as King and Abbath join him, speedily spraying out their Metal assault. The drums at times threaten to overtake everything else going on on this track. It's most definitely a showcase for a kick ass drummer. Abbath adds some more of his lead guitar voice as the trio breaks things down and falls into the blast. The ending portion of Hunts has a stumbling, almost tiered portion before returning to solid Thrash to end. An almost Technical Metal song, and Abbath nail it.
Is Root of the Mountain a sly nod to Blackmore or Priest? Disaster Amnesiac hears a lot of British steel in its opening, clean pre-NWOBHM tones that set up a solid 4/4 opening verse. They end up at a triplet feel, almost swinging, much the same that many bands did pre-Metallica. Clearly, as in Abbath's case, they still do, and it works. King gets downright Geezer on the bass here, too. This one's absolutely rooted in the sounds of Abbath's progenitors, but they've built their own, powerful sounds and firmly embedded them on this mountainside.
Abbath concludes with tight thrashing of Endless. The group, seemingly not contented to end with the power and majesty of Root, throws down one last ripping gauntlet of pure speed and fury. They lock in with more of that whip tight precision, in Dancaster's words, "....Dauntless Fearless Tireless Relentless..." Ah.....hell yeah. Forty five or so minutes in, and Abbath is still kicking the listener squarely between the perceptual nuts, and that ending fade guarantees that they'll still be there for you when you return, waiting....
If you're a fan of well crafted, tightly played Metal, of the Black or many other varieties, you surely will want to return to Abbath, too.