Absu - Tara
Osmose Productions
Blackened Tech-Thrash
13 songs (52:13)
Release year: 2001
Osmose Productions
Reviewed by James
Archive review

The Shape Of Punk To Come, Relationship Of Command, The Sound Of Perseverance. What do all these albums have in common? They were all career crowning swansongs for their respective artists, and Tara is no exception. The band have reunited, albeit in a very different form, and so it seems that Tara may not be the climax to Absu's career much longer. Regardless, it's an astounding record, and a contender for the finest black metal record of the 21st Century. With a force and musical skill unmatched by their peers, Absu were certainly on to a winner here, and it's a great shame that this particular incarnation of the band imploded at their peak.

After a brief bagpipe intro, first track proper Pillars Of Mercy explodes out of the speakers with hurricane force strength. Absu in their prime were one of the most intense black metal bands about, playing frenzied riffs that sound like Slayer at double-speed. Special mention must go to Sir Proscriptor Mcgovern's drumming, which remains one of the most frighteningly technical performances cut to tape on a metal record. His beats are varied and interesting enough almost to carry the record by themselves, which is very much a good thing as they're pushed right to the front of the mix. For drummers (like yours truly) this is an utterly essential record. It's really quite remarkable how the band can keep this level of brutality up without becoming fatiguing, for the record's entire runtime, seeing as it weighs in at a somewhat lengthy 50-plus minutes. It's also quite interesting how the record manages to have such impact despite a strange, thin guitar sound. It's oddly fitting though, and I for one wouldn't exchange it for a heavier tone.

Surprisingly for a band so focused on technicality, the band have actually managed to pen some pretty impressive songs here. All the compositions on display here are complex, bordering on progressive pieces, while managing to throw in a few catchy riffs here and there as well. Proscriptor's vocals tend to be a standard black metal rasp, but he throws in a few high pitched banshee wails on the likes of A Shield With An Iron Face and on epic closer Stone Of Destiny he even attempts some melodic clean singing.

The lyrics are certainly worth mentioning here, as the band have completed a trilogy dealing with Celtic mythology. Being Welsh myself, it's a subject that certainly holds interest to me and the band seem to have done a good job with it. As a nice little touch, the booklet (which is excellently done, by the way) contains a fairly lengthy glossary explaining many of the terms used in the lyrics. The concept is still fairly baffling mind, and I'm still a bit nonplussed as to what is actually going on even after several reads of the lyrics. Perhaps more narration, such as that seen on Stone Of Destiny would have been nice. Perhaps they should have given Christopher Lee a call, I don't know. There's some text by Proscriptor explaining what's going, but due to the fact that he writes like the rantings of a madman, and, scarier he actually seems to believe all this stuff (I've seen interviews with him that reinforce the idea that the man is on some kind of drug) it won't really serve much help to you, I'm afraid.

It's overblown and pretentious, yet Tara is an essential record, filled with enough killer riffs and beats to last you for months. And, if you're wondering, yes, I am more than a little worried about the Absu reunion. Only Proscriptor remains from the line-up that produced this masterpiece, with main songwriter Shaftiel gone from the ranks, and I'm starting to worry that the new record may be an unnecessary chapter that only serves to be a nasty little footnote in the band's history. Still, best of luck to 'em, and I certainly hope they can prove me wrong.

Killing Songs :
All except the interludes.
James quoted 94 / 100
Other albums by Absu that we have reviewed:
Absu - Abzu reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
Absu - Absu reviewed by James and quoted 87 / 100
Absu - Barathrum V.I.T.R.I.O.L. reviewed by Crims and quoted 84 / 100
6 readers voted
Your quote was: 100.
Change your vote

There are 13 replies to this review. Last one on Sun Dec 09, 2012 2:45 am
View and Post comments