(Season of Mist)
By Mike Delano
With decades of genre-defining black metal under his spiked belt as the frontman for Norwegian legends Immortal, one wouldn’t think Abbath had much left to prove when he struck out on his own. But that’s not at all what it sounds like on this eponymous debut record, which roars out of the gate like razor wind through a snow-covered forest. Opener “To War!” kicks off with a twisting, pit-churning riff before it settles into its groove of battering ram black metal. The song lays the blueprint for the remainder of the album, which rarely strays from this comfort zone, but that’s not a problem — Abbath is a tough, lean eight tracks that have one mission only: to brutalize. The speed and momentum of burners like “Count the Dead” and “Endless” is smothering but never aimless, and even slightly less suffocating tracks like “Root of the Mountain” barrel forward with purpose. Throughout, everything is exceptionally well crafted, making Abbath a record that is built to last — no surprise, given it was built by someone with mastery of the form.