Release DetailsLABEL Nuclear Blast
RELEASED ON 11/14/2006
Between Two Worlds
posted on 11/2006 By:
After a three year hiatus in which many days were spent reflecting on all that has been and all that might come to be, the mighty Norwegian warrior that dwells inside Abbath Doom Occulta has arisen from a much needed rest to create a project firmly rooted in his own making and sole vision. Admittedly, writing songs that clearly pay homage to the legendary Quorthon of Bathory fame – who passed away in 2004 of apparent heart failure – Abbath has taken his fondness for this man’s work and brought it back to life with revitalizing vigor and not an ounce of regret.
With the help of songwriting sidekick Demonaz – who writes all of the lyrics for both I and Immortal, and furthermore named both outfits – the lyrical concepts continue to revolve around icy landscapes, frozen mountains and warriors in battle while flailing weaponry upon horses. Abbath continues to croon these tales of dark imagery into the microphone with his raspy and gurgle-like croak. Love it or hate it, his delivery has always been somewhat unique, and is the perfect front for the mysticism told throughout the album. Some minor differences you’re going to notice are the instances in which he lightens up on the croak and brings out an almost cleaner sounding growl that never becomes completely clear, but the vocals are without a doubt more audible and more understandable than in the past. Sometimes the cleaner sounds get by without a mark and other times they can be downright dismal, with some choices of notes either being unreachable or just plain off.
The guitar riffs are far simpler than what we’re used to hearing from Abbath, yet he still does a fabulous job by mixing minor and major third chords over regular power chords making them sound much thicker. Also prevalent is his strumming style where he’ll pick his way over a cleaner sounding chord setting up the return to the heavy in remarkable fashion. His choice to call on old friend Arve Isdal to play lead guitar and add some flavorful melodic passages over his rhythms couldn’t have been a better one. With Isdal generally playing second fiddle in Enslaved and never really having anything to simply lead over, Abbath’s riffing gives him the perfect opportunity to play some effortless yet extremely effective and dark solos over top. We’re talking very emotional solos and melodic overlays that easily make you forget how simplistic the main riffs are. The rhythm section provides a rocklike foundation with complementary chops provided by Armagedda (ex-Immortal) and steadfast bass licks by T.C. King (ex- Gorgoroth). Although neither is overly flashy throughout, the execution is very tight and without flaw.
When all of these elements are pieced together forming a unified force of musical power the end result is spectacular. The completed songs are so well put together that I have a hard time pointing out any negatives. Songs like "The Storm I Ride", "Days of North Winds" and closer "Cursed We Are" blister along with a more urgent pace and fiercer attitude, while other numbers like the battle worthy "Warriors" and the album’s title track each present moments that lurch onward in doom-like fashion. "Battalions" will bring the latter Immortal days to mind and probably could have fit perfectly somewhere within Sons of Northern Darkness, while the angelic and alluring "Mountains" flaunts the best guitar solo on the album starting right around the 4:00 mark. "Far Beyond the Quiet" is a song that was written with Quorthon in mind, both musically and lyrically. From what I understand, Demonaz wanted to pen the lyrics as if he were the man himself, and the end result is a beautifully composed and intensely sorrowful song that is a borderline tear jerker. The songwriting from front to back reeks of pure excellence, and save for some of the choices in the vocal department all eight tracks are damn near perfect.
At the end of the day one cannot simply brush this debut release aside as just a mere tribute to one man’s favorite musician. To do so would not only be ignorant in many ways but also a grave mistake in my humble opinion. Between Two Worlds offers so much more than that by bringing a modern day sound to the music that was not only inspiring to this group of musicians but to countless others as well. Abbath and company are offering to carry the Bathorian Flag left alone and unattended since Quorthon’s passing, and I’m completely confident in their ability to keep it waving high amongst the northern winds as they strive to keep this man’s legacy alive. This is not only the biggest surprise of the year for me, but I find it hard to believe that this album will not reside at the very top of my year end list.
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