Abigor - Verwüstung / Invoke the Dark Age
Napalm Records
Black Metal
9 songs (42:29)
Release year: 1994
Abigor, Napalm Records
Reviewed by Goat
Archive review

Austrian Black Metal doesn't have quite the same ring to it as Norwegian Black Metal, but as Abigor proved with their debut alone, there's certainly substance beneath. Summoning's Silenius here takes the vocal reins, backed by long-term members PK and TT, and it makes for a Black Metal experience that's more than worth listening to. This is surprisingly technical music for the time - after all, this is Black Metal from the early nineties, so it's not exactly reinventing the wheel, but it's extremely high-quality stuff, powerful and punchy, very different to the True Norwegian output of the day. Jumping forwards in time, the band play a form of Avant-Garde Industrial Black Metal these days, but comparing the two eras there's not as much difference as you'd expect.

Abigor circa 1994 were equally as ambitious as they were ten, fifteen years later - one listen to lengthy opening epic Universe Of Black Divine should be enough to convince anyone, so high is the quality. The opening percussion soon changes to odd-sounding riffing, definite Progressive elements present, and although Silenius' vocals are the harsh screams that you'd expect, the music is most definitely a step beyond the typical Blackened blizzard. This is very melodic, shifting stuff, multiple riffs used with almost continuous change - even the drumming is technical and far from ceaseless blasting. As mentioned, the album sounds very heavy and powerful, yet this doesn't sacrifice atmosphere at all, and moments such as in Universe Of Black Divine where a deep voice suddenly begins to speak will probably make you jump as high as I did, not to mention the rather amazing acoustic strumming afterwards, backed by drums and guitar.

The album is amazingly inventive and progressive. Second track Kingdom Of Darkness opens with a mixed choir singing a folk song, before switching to a kind of more technical Burzum-like ambient Black Metal sound, almost clean vocals soon turning to shrieks as the band kick into a speedy blast. The song is highly complex, almost constantly shifting between melodic heaviness and acoustic interludes, some great soloing appearing from nowhere and vanishing just as quickly, and although it's over eight minutes long, it's impossible to get bored with - there are even kettle drums and some catchy downtuned riffing towards the end, for heaven's sake! You wouldn't have got that from many Norwegian bands in 1994.

Of course, there are the requisite keyboard interludes, and although Beneath A Steel Sky is better than 90% of keyboard interludes, the fact remains that it's still a keyboard interlude and so will probably get skipped after the first few listens, especially considering that it's followed by the excellent Eye To Eye At Armageddon, ambient keyboards adding symphonic weight to the band's gnarly riffing and screams, before some twistedly melodic whirring riffs appear later - the track as a whole is amazingly melodic. Really, I could pick any track present and describe its highlights, from In Sin (sudden acoustic interlude!) to My Vision In Blood's ominous gloom and Weeping Midwinter Tears' orchestral backing, all are fascinatingly complex songs that get better the more you listen.

It may not be Abigor's best album (I'm undecided yet) and it might not have a similar classic atmospheric punch as Darkthrone's Transilvanian Hunger, also released in 1994, but Verwüstung / Invoke the Dark Age is an excellent album nonetheless, a real smack in the face for those who persist in listening to inferior bands when brilliance like this existed. Abigor are very underappreciated in the Black Metal world, for no reason at all, and knowledge of this album's existence (let alone the familiarity with it that is really required) should be enough for those in the know to pay homage where it is due.

Killing Songs :
Universe Of Black Divine, Kingdom Of Darkness, Eye To Eye At Armageddon, My Soft Vision In Blood
Goat quoted 89 / 100
Other albums by Abigor that we have reviewed:
Abigor - Leytmotif Luzifer reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
Abigor - Opus IV reviewed by Goat and quoted 75 / 100
Abigor - Nachthymnen (From The Twilight Kingdom) reviewed by Goat and quoted 91 / 100
Abigor - Orkblut - The Retaliation reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
Abigor - Time Is The Sulphur In The Veins Of The Saint reviewed by Goat and quoted 89 / 100
To see all 7 reviews click here
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