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Candlelight (2009)
Rating: 10/10

Mythological occult metal fans rejoice! The godfathers of the genre have returned from a nearly decade long absence with a new, eponymously titled, album. Well, sort of. Absu, eight years later, is led by Proscriptor McGovern but features alongside him two brand new members (Aethyris MacKay and Zawicizuz), adding even more members to this Texas band’s impressive alumni list.

Still focusing their art on the ideas of Sumerian / Mesopotamian / Celtic mythology, Goetic / Chaos / Enochain magic(k), Thelemic mysticism, metaphysics, necromancy and barbarism, the 2009 version of Absu is surprisingly similar to the early new millennium line-up. That is a very good thing in this reviewer’s opinion. The main difference here is the production values between Absu and Tara (2001). Candlelight Records seem to have brought out the best in Absu as they have released some fairly clunky works, particularly in the mid-90s.

‘Between The Absu Of Eridu & Erech’ opens the album, meeting expectations like a jackhammer to the face. The death march vibe that hits mid-song is absolutely outstanding and quickly separates Absu from other similar bands. As Absu was always hit and miss in this reviewer’s opinion, they solidly proclaim from the very beginning that this is not simply a rebirth, it is a glorious rebirth. ‘Night Fire Canonization’, ‘Magic(k) Square Cipher’, ‘Girra’s Temple’, ‘13 Globes’ and ‘Sceptre Command’ all keep the speed element alive which promotes a whirlwind vibe in which you are emotionally swept away within the album.

As with any Absu album, the real weight comes from the more atmospheric pieces. ‘…Of The Dead Who Never Rest In Their Tombs Are The Attendance Of Familiar Spirits…Including: A.) Diversified Signs Inscribed B.) Our Earth Of Black C.) Voor’ is the focus of this aspect of the album and it’s both wildly time consuming and unquestionably worth the effort it takes to absorb it. From thrash riffs to emotionally charged guitar solos to a wellspring of dark atmosphere, this mini-epic pretty much sets the bar for this type of music. It’s easily Absu’s best songwriting to date and would have likely worked well as a stand-alone mini-album.

Overall, Absu have done better than revive themselves. In a sea of popular cult-favourite reunited bands, Absu have offered something new that is worth the wait and worthy of their namesake. Absu features virtually no posturing and operates to its full potential, like a well-oiled machine. Absu have delivered in spades on this one and given fans unrestrained hope that they will finally be recognized beyond the small market they have traditionally dwelt within.

Mark Fisher

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