Sunday, October 18, 2009

Black Metal Classics: Tara - Absu

Absu, freshwater elemental and lover to Tiamat (salty) in the Sumerian creation story. Also a thrash-black metal band from Plano, TX. Although they would return to Sumerian occult mythos again with Absu (2009), their all-time classic Tara (2001) was the final chapter of a Celtic myth trilogy of albums. It begins with the title track, which is totally a 2-minute bagpipe intro. Then all hell is unleashed!

"Pillars of Mercy" blows a hole through what black metal is capable of. The influence of Slayer is pretty apparent, but it retains and expands the hallmarks of blackness. Demonic vocals growl (but spout complicated and verbose narratives), tremolo riffs repeat (but also explode in every direction), cheesy cymbals and blastbeats firmly in place (but wedged into some insanely technical stickwork). The drummer, Proscriptor McGovern, was supposedly a frontrunner to replace Dave Lombardo in Slayer - and it shows. The blackened thrash gets some synth bloops and unsheathing sfx on "A Shield With An Iron Face," then a creepy intro and even creepier video for "Mannanan." Next up would be my #2 most ridicvlous Black Metal song title: "The Cognate House of Courtly Witches Lies West of County Meath."

The drums, they are insanity-making! "She Cries The Quiet Lake" is a close runner-up to "Pillars" for pegging the awesome-meter. I totally realize this might not grab everyone right away - give it another go. "Shecries The-huh Quiet Lay-hey-ake!!" The double-bass pummelling runs starting around :50? That's a human being doing that, repeatedly. The spectral evil laugh in the 'scene' before the middle riff-fest. The last bit with the stop-START breaks. Gotta cleanse the palate after that, so Absu settles the listener with a 2-minute interlude of ambient synth washes and chimes ("Yrp Lluyddawe," just to remind you: Celts). Then back into the field of battle... love the inexplicable heavy volume spike.

That's "Four Crossed Wands (Spell 181)," and here's "Vorago (Spell 182)." Two great spells, one epic album! "Bron (Of the Waves)" is a Led Zep III-style folk guitar intro to "Stone of Destiny (... for Magh Slecht and Ard Righ)" [video has both, with Elric of Melnibone art from P. Craig Rusell]. Pretty groovy for thrashened black metal, huh? Then everything wraps up with a "Recapitulation" of the title track, so a couple more minutes of the bagpipe's mournful, ghostly (and Celtic) wail.

Tara (2001) was the last new studio record until this year's self-titled album, with everyone replaced but the drummer. Certain things have changed significantly in 8 years (back to Sumeria), but it's still recognizably Absu... but it's not Tara. But Tara still exists for us!

No comments: