In the Eyes of Ioldanach (Osmose)
by Paul Lee
Just because America isn’t spawning a great occult and black metal scene doesn’t mean we aren’t producing some impressive bands of our own. There’re definitely some great death, thrash, and cyber/metal bands in the US, but there’re some world-class black and occult metal bands, too. I’d have thought Texas one of the least likely places to produce a deranged pagan/black metal band like Absu. Unlike fellow Texas metallers and dysfunctional posterboys Pantera, Absu is pure underground metallic mayhem (and could kick Pantera’s drunken asses).
You may not recognize the name because they’re signed to French label Osmose (famed for black metal legends like Marduk and Immortal), despite having been distributed all over the world. It’s only now that Absu are being released in the US. So, after three full-lengths, Barathrum VITRIOL (1994), The Sun of Tipareth (1995), and Third Storm of Cythraul (1997) (which you can dig up at your cooler music outlets), Absu release their EP, In the Eyes of Ioldanach, comprised of four speedy and barbaric numbers. Though they owe a great deal to forebears like Slayer, Bathory, and Sodom, Absu have carved their own sonic niche. Singer/drummer Proscriptor McGovern has a shriek that could shatter glass and a frenetic drumming style that’s as skillful as it is wild. Guitarists Shaftiel and Equitant, both of whom also perform bass duties on the album (Mezadrus of black metallers Bloodstorm performs with them live), are a whirlwind of six-string devastation.
Absu are not part of the retro thrash craze, they play their old-school-thrash-meets-black-metal with a totally modern approach. They’re also driven by ancient spirits and forces, and usually incorporate Pagan and Celtic folk music into their songs. In the Eyes of Ioldanach is all fury with none of the subtlety which has made Absu so interesting in the past. But if you’re attracted to the more feral aspects of metal without the folk elements, you’ll find this EP tasty.
(Osmose 4470 Sunset Blvd. #6 Los Angeles, CA 90027)