REVIEW: ABBATH – “Outstrider”
Three years have passed since the debut of Abbath Doom Occulta’s newest musical endeavor, Abbath, which received mostly positive reviews. While it wasn’t his strongest offering in his career (it’s kind of hard to top some of Immortal’s offerings), Abbath was able to ride momentum off of the project, and previous fame, to immediately begin touring all over the world.
I caught the live act a couple of years ago and I was immediately impressed by his and the band’s stage presence. Abbath has always had his goofy personality in most, if not all, situations but has a unique legendary atmosphere surrounding him as well. I was much more of a fan after the performance, and even more excited for future albums to be released. As 2019 rolled around, Outstrider was announced and set to be released to anticipating fans in the summer.
The “Harvest Pyre” single released in April out of nowhere, showcasing an immense change in songwriting and production. One could immediately tell that it was Abbath, sure, but there was much more this go around than the previous. The instrumentals sound immense, the solos feel more epic, and it all felt even more cohesive. Also, the overall sound felt more melodic, dropping some of the monotonous aspects of black metal.
Less than a month later, “Calm in Ire (Of Hurricane)” released, and can be found as the first track of the album. The introduction is one of the very few calm moments of the album, introducing a sparsely heard acoustic guitar accentuated by the stirrings of the wind. Soon every member emerges onto the scene, slowly immersing the listener. From the get-go, one will be given an idea of how the entire album will sound, with a few differences in tracks here and there. This isn’t inherently bad, as it sounds fantastic compared to the previous record.
There aren’t many risks taken here but there doesn’t really need to be any to make this record great. Abbath is on point with vocals, throwing in some of the low, ritualistic bellows. As previously mentioned, the production is on point, bringing about the familiar black metal tone fused with the crisp and melodic layerings when they rise up from the belly of the beast. Another obvious characteristic of this record is the soaring guitar solos that rise up in most tracks, if not all, that feel on the fence in terms of being out of place. While they do cater to the rock and roll aspect of the band’s sound, they feel forced and overdramatic in certain sections.
Quite honestly, Outstrider isn’t a bad album by any means. Abbath have found their personal sound in excellent fashion and will very much continue their success through this record. There are many tasty riffs and headbanging rhythm sections to be heard, all very much important to the standard metalhead, which helps in keeping this in a somewhat regular listening rotation. With improved production and even more improved songwriting, Abbath is heading into the right direction into creating a niche sound in the melodic metal and black metal scene. Outstrider doesn’t bring anything remotely new to the table but it does bring back an iconic sound by one of black metal’s most famous musicians.