Still donning his signature corpse paint, Abbath have returned from a six-year musical drought — and a legal battle over the name of his previous outfit, Immortal — with an impressive self-titled debut. Expanding on Immortal's black metal blueprint, his solo material ups the ante of the frontman's previous band with elements of thrash, death metal and classic rock.
Opening track "To War!" sets the tone with a thundering gallop, making it abundantly clear that Abbath mean business. Thematically, it almost feels like a call to arms — a battle cry that echoes through the entire album. There are piles of standout moments throughout, including a brightly horn section in "Ashes of the Damned" and a foreboding acoustic interjection in the otherwise riff-heavy "Winterbane." Bassist King (Gorgoroth, Ov Hell) injects some evil personality into the tracks, contributing some meaty bass runs while drummer Creature (aka Kevin Foley) thrashes and blasts with technical precision. Even Abbath Doom Occulta's recognizable croak sounds more menacing than it does amusing, and while you might have expected a certain level of cheesiness, you won't find much here.
The journey may have been treacherous, but this time, Abbath has emerged unscathed. He's proven that he doesn't need the Immortal name to expand his black metal legacy; all he needed was a little help from his friends. (Season of Mist)