"The Satanic Verses"

By Dr. Abner Mality

If you're thirsty for the wintry chill of true traditional black metal, Abazagorath comes highly recommended. This USBM band has been stalking the snows for nigh unto 20 years now, although this is their first full length in more than half a decade. The great majority of "The Satanic Verses" sounds like it could have come out in 1995 or 1996. Whereas for some acts, this would be a drawback, for the Abaza-dudes, it is a huge success.

Don't look for "shoegaze" or "industrial" black metal here. This is the pure raging blizzard of BM as you remember it best. Less than 10 seconds into the hurricane known as "Manhound", you know it. That song is so traditional it hurts. But Abazagorath plots this album so cleverly that you rarely get bored. One odd exception is the nine minute title track, which just drags too long for my taste. I prefer the more adventurous "Return To Jahila", which is just as long but varies tempo and riffing more.

Not everthing is a monolith. "Reveleation" and "Conclusion" are short, sharp shocks of violent black metal. "The Angel Gabriel" is the album's standout, with awesome power riffing like a cross of Immortal and old Satyricon...damn, what a great song. "Ayesha" is an acoustic, icy bit of relief while "A City Visible Yet Unseen" is a killer instrumental. The real ringer, though, is "Gharaniq"...this tune is so shockingly catchy, it could almost be by a different band, with a rock and roll feel. Yet it still retains the blackened Abazagorath sound.

The result is an album that is extremely traditional yet not totally predictable or monotonous. It is TRUE black metal of a kind rarely heard these days.

And to answer your questions, no, Salman Rushdie does NOT play on the album...