It’s always nice to think that you can still discover bands who have until recently been hidden in the crevices of the underground, interminably waiting, coiled and ready to spit venom into the face of any unsuspecting passer by without so much as a moments warning. Over the past week or so, Abazagorath have been that band for me. This is my first baptism of coldness in the font of their tuneful USBM hell, and it pretty much had my clothes rippling and my face distorting from the force of sheer black metal destruction since the first play.
Since forming in 1995, this is only the bands third album (though they do have a good number of splits and EPs under their belt), and I’m surprised that I’ve not come across them before given my penchant for underground BM. Anyhow, ‘The Satanic Verses’ has an acerbic vibe which while simultaneously defines USBM, whilst laying bare its influence from the 90s Scandinavian scene (particularly the Swedish one I’d say, thanks to the melodic, yet crushing riffery which packs the album). The riffs are the main point of interest for me here, and although the sickening vocals and relentless drum battery are of a high calibre, the riffs are truly coated in a ghoulish, frosty resin which constantly shifts and keeps your interest and creating some truly magnificent atmospheres.
Beneath the sheer coldness, there is great song-writing at the heart of their sound – it’s not just a wall of tremolo picked minor key hell by any means. In fact, the melodies are truly haunting and thoroughly evocative, pleasantly reminding me of the likes of Dissection, Dark Funeral or Vinterland throughout. The music is constantly twisting and writhing like some unspeakable ancient spirit which has been released from centuries of torment, and the release as a whole is a thoroughly satisfying listen.
This is an album which effortlessly take you on a journey, whisking you away from your current location to desolate, icy landscapes where many evils dwell and darkness is ever present. Underneath the veneer of image and ‘evil’, isn’t this a huge reason of what listening to a black metal is meant to be about? I certainly think so, so I heartily recommend this album. ‘The Satanic Verses’ is Salman Rushdie approved black metal (probably), where the power of the riff compels you!
(8/10 Lars Christiansen)