Everyone knows the story of Immortal, their fallout and constant mud-slinging between present and ex band members, so I’m not going to bore you to death with that. Their legendary frontman Abbath formed the band bearing his artistic name in 2015 and has since released two full lengths, in 2016 and 2019, respectively. Dread Reaver, coming out this Friday, is advertised by Season Of Mist as “the culmination of everything before it”, so, let’s see what we have here.
Acid Haze is a promising opener, bearing the trademark chaotic riffage with epic undertones and the dirty mid-tempo black metal sound we expect to hear from Abbath. A similar feeling of majestic mountain scapes turned into battle ground is delivered successfully by third track Dream Cull, but, sadly, the steam is lost with the absolutely pointless noisy mess, called Scarred Core. Myrmidon, on the other hand, plays with some melody in the chorus and is actually a nice mid-tempo noisy take on NWOBHM, before it is destroyed when the tempo picks up. The Deep Unbound is the fastest song in the album, sounding not too far off Blizzard Beasts, of course with a much better production. So far, the impression is of inconsistency and some good ideas scattered here and there, which are drowned by a wall of sound and deliberately over-distorted guitars. Septentrion and The Book Of Breath are, unfortunately, two other examples of songs which leave me with absolutely no desire for repeated listening. I can’t accept to listen to a slightly varied versions of the same riff, with a different song title throughout the best part of the album, sorry.
The title track, which mercifully closes the album is a slight improvement with some varied dynamics and more memorable riffs and patterns, but it cannot make it for the ones before that. Oh, and what about the dismal cover of Trapped Under Ice? Why?
I like so many of the albums Abbath played on in his great career, but this impersonation of the “Lemmy of black metal” is not going anywhere. This album is not black metal, first of all, and if you were the “Lemmy” of black metal, why would you betray the style? Lemmy (God bless him) never strayed away from his style, remember? And if you want to do something different and not be confined within a genre’s boundaries, then don’t allow your label to call you the “Lemmy” of black metal. For the last 7 years with his band, Abbath is obviously treading a different path, and we all get that. When it is done with self-belief and more importantly – with inspiration, it works. However, the music contained within Dread Reaver is not to be remembered and far from the class and quality of what we know this man is capable of.