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Abbath Outstrider


Album Review: ABBATH Outstrider

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Sometimes a breakup is for the best. Sure, the two parties probably feel some needless social obligation to be all "sad" about it, and put on some silly dramatic performance akin to every terrible 90s rom-com. But, deep down, the two are better apart. This isn't just about relationships, this clearly applies to musical entities as well. In other words, metal didn't need another All Shall Fall, it's much better off in the new world of Outstrider and Northern Chaos Gods.

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The former is Abbath's second album, a follow-up to 2016's promising debut. That album had some standout tracks on it but still felt like a band finding its footing. Then, Immortal dropped its newest record last year—it was one of the best black metal albums of the last five years. Abbath's latest offering is a fitting rejoinder (not that they're in direct conflict, by any means, the mainland and breakaway provinces of Blashyrkh exist peacefully these days) and a more refined statement of purpose.

Album Review: ABBATH <em>Outstrider</em>" width="700" height="394" srcset="×422.jpg 750w,×169.jpg 300w,×432.jpg 768w" sizes="(max-width: 700px) 100vw, 700px" />
<p>Whereas modern-day <strong>Immortal</strong> burns and tears in the style of <em>Pure Holocaust</em> and <em>Battles in the North</em>, Abbath charges along with a wink and swagger reminiscent of <em>Sons of Northern Darkness</em> and (to a lesser extent) <em>At the Heart of Winter</em>. But <strong>Abbath</strong>'s efforts have a lot of their own character. There's plenty of classic heavy metal to be found here, as this is an album crafted to pounding fists and pounding beers in the parking lot, the basement and the metal bar. Of course, there are moments on songs like "The Artifex" and "Hecate" that bear a more extreme metal quality. But even those moments are broken up by mid-tempo romps and pentatonic-scaled guitar solos.
<p>Much of the album has an anthemic feel to it, particularly on the lead single, "Harvest Pyre" and the glorious title track. Yes, the guitars are made to sound like well-produced black metal beasts, but there's a lot of <strong>Accept</strong>, <strong>Dio</strong>, and <strong>Raven</strong> reverberating in the riffs as well. It gives the music a marker that says, "ah, this is <strong>Abbath</strong>!"
<p>The production suits the album perfectly. The sound is big, bold and polished in a way that doesn't sap the riffs of their power. The guitars are honed, but not compressed and noise-gated into soulless clicking noises (the horror!) Speaking of not-too-much clicking, drummer Ukri Suvilehto carries the album in a fantastic fashion. He knows how to use the kick-drums, without overusing it.<div class=Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

The cover of Bathory's 1988 classic "Pace to Death" introduces something of a tonal shift at the end of the album, as its thrashing ferocity deviates a bit from the rest of the album. But who cares? It's Abbath doing a solid Bathory cover. Abbath himself is perfectly suited to putting his own spin onto Quorthon's vocals, making it a satisfying send off to a great album.

Outstrider works well as a back-to-front listen, less so as a collection of essential tunes that stand on their own. It's just a cool, fun album of heavy black metal. And that's all it should be. Abbath came here to rage, but he came to rock as well, and rock we will!

Score: 8.5/10
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Favorite songs: "The Artifex," "Harvest Pyre," "Outstrider" and "Hecate"

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