Still no Vinnie Vincent guest solo

dB Rating: 8/10

Release Date: January 22nd, 2016
Label: Season of Mist

I believe it was ageless redneck overlords Alabama who famously crooned, “You can’t keep a good man down.” Granted, Randy Owen and crew definitely didn’t have a corpsepainted kvlt icon in mind when they penned those poignant words, but the sentiment rings true nonetheless: Despite his not-so-amicable departure from Immortal in early 2015 and the band’s subsequent pledge to continue in his stead, Abbath Doom Occulta has promptly returned with a furiously energetic LP that cements his status as black metal’s favorite son (of northern darkness).

With an all-star rhythm section comprised of ex-Gorgoroth bassist King ov Hell and masked drummer Creature (a.k.a. Benighted’s Kevin Foley), Abbath’s first album under his own moniker is a crushing blend of Immortal’s frigid riffs and atmosphere, I’s confident swagger and the general brutality of Behemoth-esque blackened death metal. Most of the latter ingredient is the result of Foley’s pedigree—his propulsive style gives the music a ferocious edge, especially when he has room to frantically blast on ragers like “Fenrir Hunts” and “Endless.”

Anyone with even a passing familiarity of Immortal will know what to expect from these eight songs, but Abbath also does a great job of incorporating subtle touches that distinguish it from its frosty cousins, like the Triptykon vibe that permeates blistering leadoff track “To War!” and the mid-paced dynamics of “Root of the Mountain.” Even the out-of-nowhere Sigh horns on “Ashes of the Damned” feel strangely organic, like Abbath is giving you a knowing wink through his black-and-white camouflage.

— Matt Solis
Review originally printed in the February 2016 issue.