Abigor - Totschläger (A Saintslayer's Songbook)
World Terror Committee
Symphonic Black Metal
9 songs (51:03)
Release year: 2020
Abigor, World Terror Committee
Reviewed by Goat

A long two years after the surprise release of Austrian duo Abigor's tenth full-length, the wildly underrated Höllenzwang (Chronicles of Perdition), they've gone and done it again, releasing the second in what seems to be a new series of German title (English subtitle) records. It seems perverse of the band to be so wedded lately to this late year/new year release schedule but they clearly don't care about attracting attention except from the devout, and even then some of us manage to miss the news come this time of year! And as ever if you're interested in black metal that both sticks largely true to a traditional sound as well as pushing it in new and interesting directions, Totschläger ('killer') is another triumph. Where Höllenzwang ('Hell Compulsion') was an abstract deconstruction of traditional black metal, sounding like an avant-garde take on the most 1994 of sounds, Totschläger is a flowering, keeping that technical post-Deathspell Omega-sharpness but introducing more orchestral flourishes and bells and whistles behind the guitars and drums to add colour to the suddenly drab-seeming Höllenzwang formula.

What this results in is an album that largely feels like a lost 90s classic, sticking close to that style even with perfect production values that coat the instruments with the required amount of cobwebs but make it all listenable. The keyboards are back in a big way, album opener Gomorrha Rising/Nightside Rebellion beginning with piano and synthesized orchestration for nearly two minutes before launching into a symphonic black attack straight out of the 90s. Some of these elements are woven naturally into the blackened rumble, some are deliberately jarring synthetic additions, such as that which opens Orkblut (Sieg oder Tod) or La plus longe nuite du Diable/Guiding the Nameless. Yet the band haven't gone down an orchestral cul-de-sac, as the widdly likes of The Saint of Murder show with the more guitar-focused leads and melodies, and rabid finale Terrorkommando Eligos alone proves by going for the throat with its melodic riff assault, like Marduk with a better sense of melody!

Usual members PK and TT are once again joined by Summoning's Silenius on vocals, and he has truly stretched himself to be more out-there than ever, a collection of deranged shrieks, yells and howls that go far beyond the expected performance to challenge Mr Csihar in the black metal frontman stakes, particularly on later cuts like Scarlet Suite for the Devil where he simply spews hatred. The generally longer song running time, stretching into the five-to-six minute mark, allows the band to spend a little more time developing song themes too, so the likes of Silent Towers, Screaming Tombs have orchestral interludes with distant screams and yells to unsettle you before the metal resumes. Abigor sound hungry and inspired, and that makes this a fun album to blast even before you try and get to the bottom of what is being attempted. It's the kind of record that you enjoy on initial plays, coming back to again and again as you try to understand what is going on. And it very much feels like the middle point of a trio, suggesting that even better is to come. Yet as it is, Totschläger is tremendous, a black metal album that thrills and excites, that marries the best parts of the early and later (non-electronic) Abigor discography. It seems like art, like something that you have to have revealed to you, and those that enjoy the early, Nachthymnen-era days of the band will be especially pleased, as this manages to bridge the gaps between now and 25 years ago. Abigor continue to make art for themselves, and we lucky few continue to be blessed with glimpses of wisdom; even with knowledge of the band's back catalogue, Totschläger impresses, and demands respect and attention.

Killing Songs :
Gomorrha Rising/Nightside Rebellion, Orkblut (Sieg oder Tod), The Saint of Murder, Terrorkommando Eligos
Goat quoted 85 / 100
Other albums by Abigor that we have reviewed:
Abigor - Höllenzwang (Chronicles of Perdition) reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
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
To see all 9 reviews click here
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