The eponymous frontman of ABBATH has not graced Australian shores since his tour with the original sons of Northern darkness, IMMORTAL, in 2008. Recently, the band IMMORTAL perished and their meme-worthy frontman arose triumphantly from the ashes of this demise with a new line up of extremely talented musicians from the black metal scene to continue his reign over the grim and frostbitten kingdoms erected in his name. Needless to say, fans of Abbath and his musical output were as excited as a black metal fan can get about anything to see if this new band retained the fire of its ancestry.
In preparation for the spectacle that would be ABBATH, Sydney’s own GODS OF EDEN took to the stage. This is a band that has received a lot of attention of late, due in part to their debut album which has been almost unanimously lauded as a highly impressive offering. I hadn’t yet heard this much talked about new album, so I was keen to see what the band would bring to the table in the live setting.
The first half of their set didn’t do much to show me that the hype surrounding these guys was justified. To me, it seemed a lot of their music relied on a backing track, and that trying to play along to said track was throwing the musicians off. It was almost as though each band member was playing a different song to the others. While it was clear that each individual was highly competent and technically skilled with their respective instrument, their music often came across as something of a mess. That aside, I could hear some moments of greatness in their songs and, halfway through their set, the music started to come together and we were presented some great metal tracks with impressive solos, soaring clean vocals and melodic sections, but not without some heaviness and growls thrown into the mix. I would very much like to see them again with a longer set and without the hitches that sullied the first half of their performance.
RUINS - a black metal band that seemed to have crawled out of the darkest corners of Tasmania - were up next, and they were thoroughly impressive. It has been a long time since I had last seen them perform, but it sounded as though they had done nothing but improve on their sound in that time. The majority of their set was some mid-paced black metal in a similar vein to SATYRICON’s Now, Diabolical era - but much more bleak and heavy sounding. To keep things interesting, the tempo would rise and fall to the beat of Dave Hayley’s (PSYCROPTIC, ex-BLOOD DUSTER et al) drum.
This is a band that doesn’t rely heavily on being able to play a million miles an hour and they use blast beats sparingly, thus increasing their effectiveness. There were no clean vocals to be found here, no noodling solos or fanciful melodies, just pure black metal. To my mind, these support bands reflected the two main aspects of IMMORTAL’s music; GODS OF EDEN with their theatrics and technicality, and RUINS with their straight-forward, grim and nihilistic blackened sound. The scene was set for ABBATH.
When the painted visage of the man known as Abbath emerged from the smoke and darkness of the wings to the forefront of the stage, it felt as though every meme and Pete Beste photo I had ever seen came to life before my eyes. Abbath brought with him an energy that was infectious and completely entertaining. The band dove straight into ‘Battalions’, a song originating from the Between Two Worlds album released by the “supergroup” Abbath was part of with King (ex-GORGOROTH, OV HELL, GOD SEED et al) and Ice Dale (ENSLAVED), named simply I. It was good to see some of these I songs played live as it seemed as though that group was no longer active.
It was even better, however, seeing the IMMORTAL material being played so well. Focusing mainly on the Sons of Northern Darkness album, these songs sounded fresh , exciting and masterfully heavy in the hands of the new band with the aforementioned King on bass (surprisingly almost matching the energy brought by Abbath), Per Valla providing solid backing and solos on guitar, and Creature (DISAVOWED, BENIGHTED et al) absolutely pounding the drums into submission.
There were a few more forays into the IMMORTAL back catalogue with songs like ‘All Shall Fall’ (which unfortunately suffered from technical issues with Abbath’s guitar) and a couple of songs from At The Heart of Winter which were great, but a real standout for me was the band’s new song, ‘Fenrir Hunts’. It sounded about hundred times heavier than it does in the video that has been going around online, and it whet my appetite for the new ABBATH album to be released in January next year.
All in all, ABBATH put on an amazing show that would have enflamed even the coldest of black metal hearts.
Abbath Official || www.abbath.net
Abbath Facebook || www.facebook.com/abbathband
Tour by || Destroy All Lines
GIVEAWAY: Thanks to our friends at Destroy All Lines & Maric Media, we have 3 x photographs signed by the legendary ABBATH to give away. To win one of these extremely rare collectables, simply 'like' our Facebook page then shoot us an email firstname.lastname@example.org telling us your favourite track Abbath has worked on throughout his career. Winners will be drawn at 5pm on October 21st AEDT and notified by email.