As a long-time fan of Immortal I am starting to feel like the tug of love corpse painted child. The parents can no longer see eye to eye and are dropping us kids off at a Toby Carvery to be picked up by their past love/now adversary.

When Abbath released his post split solo debut in 2016 I was excited. Dad was taking me to Black Metal Thorpe Park! Turns out it was just the local fun fair and I didn’t even get a mega band to ride the big stuff. It was lacklustre and tepid when I wanted ferocious and ice cold.  The man himself started to go a little off the rails and buffoonery abounded. So far so metal meme.

Then Demonaz and Horgh got their arses in gear and dropped “Northern Chaos Gods” last year and the ante was upped.

Well this little metaller boy is pleased that it’s daddy’s weekend cos Outstrider is great!

I had the pleasure of interviewing Abbath Doom Occulta at the LA2 on the Sons of Northern Darkness tour many moons ago. What struck me was his unashamed enthusiasm for rock and roll and fun. In a world of po faced artificial grimness it was great to interview him whilst he was wearing a Sex Pistols beanie talking about his great life on the road , every so often pausing to shout Scandinavian insults at his pal Peter Tagtgren who was being interviewed by my colleague on the floor below.  He came across as a true rock and roller, full of vim and swagger.

His work with” I”  personified this , merging the rock and roll with the black metal fury to great effect and the future looked badger painted.

Now, I can overlook my displeasure with the last album and “live in the now” as Garth opined to his hirsute friend. “Outstrider” sounds like the title of an 8 bit arcade game where the protagonist blasts space worms but it is a beautiful bundle of Black and Roll.

Those trademark Abbath riffs permeate throughout and Abbath appears to have found a winning formula melding classic Heavy Metal, punky rock and Roll and the icy blackened blast that so many love.

Opener “Calm in Ire (Of Hurricane)” opens with an acoustic passage with a Nordic folk edge before leaping into an epic tub thumping Viking beat. As the iconic rasp cuts in and an 80’s style guitar line shoots skywards it is evident that this is summat special. Pounding drums, neck wrecking riffs and fist pumping vocals pepper all 9 tracks.  This is the sound of a man reborn in ice.

“Bridge of Spasms” is a mosh pit in aural form. Pure thrash madness with the frontman seeming to unleash his inner Mongol with deep throat linguistics.  Abbath is famed for his love of Bathory and the grandeur and atmospheres so loved and lavishly executed by Quorthon is evident here in (ace of) spades. (side note for Bombers) .

“Land of Khem” see’s Mr Doom Occulta sing with a punkish swagger and pace which strangely suits him before rushing into a more blackened vocal pattern.  There is a street fighting attitude in this song and many of its brothers that I can only guess is evident of the resilience of man who seemed to be losing his mind and then did lose his band, bouncing back and firing on all cylinders (excuse the cliché) .

The title track is meaty and muscular. Like an Apex predator raising its head amongst the seething mass of hair and teeth. This is a track that walks down the hill and fucks the whole herd if you remember the old adage.

The sense of humour is given an outing with “Scythwinder” – what a great title if a little Bodom. It is a bloody rager.  Pure black thrash, spikes and denim fun. Pummelling drums and orange squeezing moments. Rock and fucking roll!

“Hecate” sounds like it could fit right into “All Shall Fall” . Viciously epic with thunderous drums and penetrating solos. All within 4 and half minutes too!

“Pace Till Death” ends Outstrider with a head snapping ferocity. Think Kreator’s “Pleasure to Kill”. Pure Teutonic thrash given the Abbath treatment. Shit I am transported to mini Matt listening to Mille and friends in my bedroom again – with a side order of Under the Sign of a Black Mark.

Abbath has returned and he plays Rock and Roll!

(9/10 Matt Mason)