Abbath – Dread Reaver

Dear Reaver Album Cover Art

Abbath – Dread Reaver
Season Of Mist
Release Date: 25/03/2022
Running Time: 39:00
Review by Rory Bentley
8.5/10

Splish splash I was taking Abbath! Right, now that I’ve got that out of my system, it’s time to review the third solo record from the former Immortal frontman, entitled “Dread Reaver”. 

There’s a lot to like about Abbath, he sings like a zombified Lemmy, he has the charisma of David Lee Roth and he looks like a disgruntled badger. I’ve never been a huge Black Metal guy but Immortal are definitely one of the bands that I can get down with. They have a cool atmospheric feel, the production is normally just the right side of dirty without becoming an unlistenable mulch and they have riffs and hooks for days. A big part of those hooks was their gurgling rockstar frontman, who brought a sense of fun and down to earth relatability to Black Metal – and that has definitely carried over into his solo career.

“Dread Reaver” represents perhaps the most cohesive collection of songs Abbath has produced as a solo act, melding Hard Rock swagger and Extreme Metal menace perfectly to create an acerbic attack that makes you want to shake your hips. As ‘Acid Haze’ fades in with pounding drums and lead work straight out of the Stadium Rock playbook, it hits you with a nasty riff and things kick into warp speed as Ukri Suvilehto proceeds to smash the absolute shite out of his kit. By the time Abbath caps everything off with a blood curdling sustained scream you’re left in no doubt that he and his band of Nordic warriors can still throw down hard.

‘Scarred Core’ begins with gurgled shamanic vocalisations and some Eastern sounding melodies while continuing the relentless pace of the opener. Abbath has never sounded better on the mic here, bringing in a hint of melody to his guttural croak that somehow makes this cacophony into a cast iron sing-along rager. This canny ear for a good hook is all over the record with ‘Myrmidon’s’ perplexing meld of Classic Rock and nihilistic filth providing another showcase for a vocalist that oozes starpower without neutering the deathly croak that made us all love him in the first place.

Although most of the songs stay in the same lane and there’s less experimentation than previous releases, there’s still plenty of rhythmic shifts and tonal twists and turns to stop the record falling into monotony. ‘Dream Cull’ has a lilting flamenco intro and strong tremolo melodies to go with its tribal chanting verses and ‘The Deep Unbound’ turns on a dime from full pelt fury into a jaunty swing that makes you want to ride into battle and drink the blood of your enemies. Maybe that’s just me. I should probably get help. We also get a beefed up version of Metallica’s ‘Trapped Under Ice’ that sounds exactly as one might expect, but is a delight nonetheless.

The finale of this eminently danceable slice of evil comes with the title track which is the best song on here for my money. The main riff is a scalding exercise in pit-starting songcraft with squealing harmonics Kerry King would be proud of. With the anthemic chorus and seductively occult grooves, this may be the best ‘mainstream’ Black Metal bop since Satyricon’s ‘Fuel for Hatred’. Lovely stuff!

With a punchy runtime, laser-focused writing where no song breaks the five minute mark and just enough new tricks to keep long term listeners engaged, ‘Dread Reaver’ is the shape-throwing necro soundtrack we need in these fucked up times. Crack a beer, slap on your corpse paint and get your dancing shoes on- there’s a party in the frozen woods and everyone’s invited!

‘Dread Reaver’ – Official Streaming Video

TRACKLISTING:
01. Acid Haze
02. Scarred Core
03. Dream Cull
04. Myrmidon
05. The Deep Unbound
06. Septentrion
07. Trapped Under Ice
08. The Book of Breath
09. Dread Reaver

LINE-UP:
Abbath – Guitar, Bass & Vocals
Ukri Suvilehto – Drums
Ole André Farstad – Lead & Acoustic Guitars
Mia Wallace – Bass on Acid Haze, Scarred Core, The Deep Unbound & Dread Reaver

LINKS:

Abbath Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Rory Bentley and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.