Home > Music > Absu – The Third Storm of Cythraul (1998)

Absu – The Third Storm of Cythraul (1998)

It turns out I ended up listening to Absu’s work in reverse chronological order, at least when it comes to the three black metal influenced albums they did in the mid-’90s. They show an ever growing obsession with speed and instrumental proficiency; The Sun of Tiphareth is generally fairly simplistic albeit with lengthy songs; Tara is famous for how fast it was by the standards of the genre in 2001, and this album is somewhere in the middle. Arguably, the transition between this album and the last was at least partially due to the change in lyrical themes; Absu’s first two albums deal with Sumerian mythology, and the next two with Celtic mythology. Make of that change what you will.

Either way, this album is closer in sound and approach to its successor than its predecessor. This becomes apparent if you pay close attention to the types of riffs the songs contain – lots of them start tremolo based, but end with un-tremolo’d chord progressions. That sort of construction is not something I hear all that often in the metal I listen to, to the point that I almost think of it as the band’s trademark. In other words, Proscriptor’s already flashy and technical drumming style has been edged out (mentally) by the guitar work of Raymond Heflin and Mike “Shaftiel” Kelly. Maybe it’s the fact I tend to pay more attention to guitars than drums when I listen to metal, but maybe it’s the way they write and perform the guitar parts in the songs.

Either way, despite the embellishments and expressions of instrumental technicality that the songs provide, I would say this album owes more to 1980s black-thrash metal than the later work associated with with either of the terms. Amongst other things, there’s more of an emphasis on the percussion, less overt melody, and so forth. It’s hard to say how much access the members of Absu had to other forms of black metal in 1998, but the influential first wave recordings were probably easier to find. Added onto that inspiration was perhaps a great deal of whatever extreme thrash, death metal, and other underground metal recordings the band could get their hands on. They were in a reasonably good place to do it – Texas, while not the most obvious place for metal, did have a fertile underground scene. There wasn’t all that much American black metal in 1998, either – Von clearly had existed, I Shalt Become was attempting to do so as well, Judas Iscariot and Demoncy had put out a few works, but there weren’t that many options. I digress – after being subtle if noticable at all on the last album, The Third Storm of Cythraul is a major step towards a speed/thrash oriented sound for Absu, and since it came with a lyrical theme change, I’m willing to hypothesize that it was intentional.

Highlights: “Highland Tyrant Attack”, “Swords and Leather”, “The Winter Zephyr”

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