Absu

Mythological Occult Metal: 1991-2001

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Were it not for his restless dalliance with an endless parade of parallel ventures (including Melechesh, Judas Iscariot, and even auditioning for Slayer at one point), drummer and vocalist Proscriptor might have guided his Dallas-based main band, Absu, beyond consideration as one of America's finest black metal bands to achieve similar distinction on the international stage. As it stands, cult recognition will have to do, and for those cult followers, 2005's two-disc collection Mythological Occult Metal: 1991-2001 is a virtual boon of vault-emptying music from all eras of the band's career. Of course, its title refers to Absu's general lyrical philosophy more so than their constantly shifting musical style through the years, since the material on hand here encompasses quite a radical sonic evolution. Few people know, for instance, that at the time of their 1991 debut EP, Temples of Offal, Absu would have been best described as a death metal band -- right down to the hyper-technical arrangements and vocalist/guitarist Shaftiel's guttural croak over tracks like "Immortal Sorcery" and "Disembodied." By the time of 1994's suggestively named ...And Shineth Unto the Cold Cometh, Absu had already refined those origins into the thrashing black metal style most familiar to fans, and, come the alternate version of 2000's "Stone of Destiny" (originally found on the acclaimed Tara album), had arrived at a nearly avant-garde compositional finesse, reflected in incredibly detailed storylines and far more accessible instrumental arrangements, even including Rob Halford-like shrieking melodies. Disc two of this set keeps the rarities coming by dredging up some entertaining cover versions (including a brutalizing take on Possessed's "Swing of the Axe" and an almost note-perfect rendition of Iron Maiden's "Transylvania"), lo-fi but explosive live recordings (highlighted by the scathing black metal assault of "Highland Tyrant Attack"), and a closing tandem of previously unreleased songs drawn from rehearsal tapes which, if nothing else, might teach you that "Tasseomancy" is the art of reading tea leaves! All kidding aside, don't hesitate to pick up Mythological Occult Metal if you're a longtime follower looking to tie up the loose ends of your Absu collection; first-time listeners could do a lot worse, but may want to begin their journeys with the aforementioned Tara album for a more cohesive experience.

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