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Review: Absu - Tara

Label: Osmose Productions
Year released: 2001
Duration: 52:15
Tracks: 13
Genre: Black Metal

Rating: 4.5/5

Review online: December 14, 2003
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
Readers Rating

Rated 4.18/5 (83.61%) (72 Votes)

Absu's previous works had ranged from pretty bad to fairly awful, and so it was with great surprise that I discovered that this Texas band had become something worth hearing. "Tara" is their fifth and (at the time of this writing) most recent album, and while it is firmly in the same style as their older material, it is head and shoulders above it in terms of quality.

Absu essentially play a very fast variety of thrashy Black Metal, but apparently they object to this designation, preferring 'Mythological Occult Metal' – OK. But still, this is basically BM with some Slayeresque riffage and even the occasional Mercyful Fate flourish. On previous albums Absu seemed purely incapable of putting these elements together in a way that was at all compelling, and in fact the bland musicianship was largely to blame for this. I suppose they finally decided that if they ever wanted to make music as complex and grandiose as their lyrics, they had better learn to play, and boy did they ever. Drummer/Mastermind Proscriptor was never very impressive as a player before this, and he must have worked his ass off for this recording, as here he turns in one of extreme metal's most amazing drum performances ever. I mean the rolls, the fills and the eye-popping double-bass work will just floor you even if you are not a drum maven. Even if you knew nothing about drumming you would still be shaking your head and saying "how in Hell did he just do that?" He has really worked on his vocals as well, and here they are much more aggressive and under control, rather than the high-pitched yattering he used to subject people to.

With decent musicianship Absu are finally able to write music that keeps up with their ambitious lyrics, and every song on "Tara" is a tour-de-force in riffage, speed, complexity, and more speed. It is highly unusual for music this fast to be able to create distinct identities for songs, but here Absu manage it, and you can very quickly learn to tell one song from another. Songs like "Shield With An Iron Face" or "Four Crossed Wands" just tear it up with furious riffs, incredible playing, and actually catchy songwriting.

The booklet is just amazing, with cover art and interior design by the awesome Kris Verwimp and the full lyrics included – lyrics that for the most part surpass anything this band has done before. The band pics are a little silly, and Proscriptor doesn't look very menacing with corn snakes draped across him, but oh well.

This is a very, very impressive album by a band I had pretty much written off. Whereas I used to wonder why the hell Absu still had a record deal, now I wonder when their next CD will be out. "Tara" is an essential album for fans of extreme metal, and nobody should be without it.

Other related information on the site
Review: Absu (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: Abzu (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: Mythological Occult Metal: 1991-2001 (reviewed by Michel Renaud)
Review: Tara (reviewed by Christian Renner)
Review: The Sun Of Tiphareth (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: The Third Storm Of Cythraul (reviewed by Chaossphere)
Review: The Third Storm Of Cythraul (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
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