Abigor - Höllenzwang (Chronicles of Perdition)
Avantgarde Music
Black Metal
9 songs (36:02)
Release year: 2018
Abigor, Avantgarde Music
Reviewed by Goat

Seeing in the new year with a bang, Abigor's tenth full-length is as chaotic and inscrutable as ever, stretching the technical black metal of 2014's Leytmotif Luzifer in new ways. At first listens it almost seems like a total throwback to their early days, and the genre's; nineties black metal in all its stringent glory. But this is proved wrong almost immediately with the strange, disassembled All Hail Darkness and Evil, which replaces the Deathspell Omega-isms of past albums with an almost jam band feel, riffs stripped of dissonance and put to work in atmospheric backdrops atop a downright deranged vocal performance from frequent collaborator and Summoning frontman Silenius. He sounds more like Attila Csihar than even the man himself, moving from a deep sinister snarl to wild screams and yells, all seeming very fitting for the music itself, which is as technical as before but much looser and less focused, arranged in three-to-four minute 'songs' that manage to be memorable thanks to the compelling melodies and use of vocals and samples.

You won't hear a more gripping Satanic invocation than, say, Black Death Sathanas (Our Lord's Arrival) yet it gallops by at under three minutes' length, seeming longer due to the sheer amount packed in. What initially seems random reveals itself to be rigidly designed; the shifts in tempo of The Cold Breath of Satan fit very well with the almost preaching vocals, and the bassy meandering of None Before Him follows on perfectly. The last thing we heard from Abigor prior to this was their contribution to last year's four-way split with Nightbringer, Thy Darkened Shade, and Mortuus and my description of that as a 'deranged mini-opus in praise of Him Downstairs' fits Höllenzwang even better. Each and every second of this is devoted to Satan, whether the almost ambient soundscape of Olden Days or the semi-melodic galloping of Hymn to the Flaming Void. Whatever the definition of mainstream music is, this is its opposite; a deliberately difficult trawl through the last few decades of Abigor's output (minus, of course, the electronic dalliances of Fractal Possession and Time is the Sulphur...) that is at once different from anything they've fashioned and a deeply logical next step.

It's not perfect; the only real misstep is a sample in Christ's Descent into Hell which steps over the silliness line, and the vocal layering in finale Ancient Fog of Evil doesn't really work, either -- the combined impact of the two ruining the ending of the album somewhat. Yet as a package, Höllenzwang is very solid, on surface and deeper listens, and I'm still discovering new things many listens later. My love for Abigor has been documented before but this really is genuinely fascinating from the Austrians, a black metal blast that I'll be pouring over as much as their others and that I'm already marking as a possible-to-likely pick for the top 15 next year. A must-listen both for those who know the band's name, and for those new. Listen to this and buy it here; a physical release is due from February.

Killing Songs :
All Hail Darkness and Evil, Sword of Silence, The Cold Breath of Satan
Goat quoted 80 / 100
Other albums by Abigor that we have reviewed:
Abigor - Totschläger (A Saintslayer's Songbook) reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 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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