Abigor - Höllenzwang (Chronicles of Perdition)
(Avantgarde Music, 2018)
#FOR FANS OF: Black Metal
That isn't to say that there isn't anything redeemable in 'Höllenzwang (Chronicles of Perdition)'. The regal and theatrical synth that closes a series of unusual arrangements in “All Hail Darkness and Evil” introduces an offering that initially intrigues while leaving listeners wondering just how such chaos can be sustained by presenting such an intimidating mix buffered by such truly off putting aspects. A cursory glance at the shrieking and stumbling leads as they are trodden upon by a litany of drum changes does pique some initial curiosity. However, that is only until moments of clean singing and choral outpouring of the song's namesake call out from the winds of controlled chaos crashing into cliffs of cringe, as though the lyrics are being yelled into an oscillating fan as the guitars clamor up blood soaked walls with tormented and grotesque limb movements, their jagged joints having been bent, broken, and repurposed in opposing directions. The album does well to focus on the agony of malformation while drastically abusing the register but finds itself stuck in the most unsophisticated and sophomoric senses of the sentiment that it renders its bewilderment moot to its own emasculated execution.
The weirdness doesn't stop there as “Sword of Silence” awkwardly runs up, down, and around its register like the little feet of spectral children haunting the staircase where their necks were broken. The absurd vocal delivery boots this clumsy song as far from evil territory as its kick can muster and instead jams its big toe into the anus of parody. The guitars attempt to corrupt and distort the flow of a song like “The Duelists” or “Flash of the Blade” with a delivery that inverts any and all chivalric concepts to dishonor past regal Iron Maiden bouts, yet its realization merely comes off as a goof on black metal so easily able to fit into a Spinal Tap sequel's montage as the aging band attempts to stay relevant by hopping from style to style in search of a following. Just because three separate songs can be played at once, it doesn't mean that they combine amicably or even hint at the fruits of jazz. The avant-garde treble movements in this album seem like an excuse to feign intellect while having no prescribed direction before jumping into wholly unsatisfying runs, but at least the rhythm tries to pump some adrenaline despite its dilution. 'Höllenzwang (Chronicles of Perdition)' is made even more comedic by the disharmony of “Black Death Sathanas- Our Lord's Arrival” and the groans that accompany it and “The Cold Breath of Satan” into what sounds like a harem full of Fergie replicants all singing “The Star Spangled Banner” while reenacting The Exorcist by masturbating with golden eagle flag toppers in order to shock Dani Filth out of an opera house. By the end of “The Cold Breath of Satan” there is a breakdown where the guitars create a ghastly and intriguing curl that creeps down the spine, finally achieving the sort of eminent evil that draws out images of horror rather than residing only in parody. Sadly it is too little too late after enduring such unpalatable mechanics, made even less enticing by this meandering maelstrom maiming its majesty.
Unfortunately, the redemption found in achieving maleficent notation is in sparse supply as its most apparent instance appears in “Christ's Descent into Hell” where the ensemble careens into the depths with a frolicking tumble, as though chasing a wheel of cheese into a cauldron of shaved steak. Idiotic souls are left screaming as their mouths melt from the delicious lava in spite of knowing exactly what luncheon grotesquerie they were lunging into. An opening run in “None Before Him” provides paltry satisfaction before the guitars are allowed to run riot and the ensemble embraces the boredom brought by Dimmu Borgir. As much as Abigor promises the unusual and pads it with a slight bit of interesting, 'Höllenzwang (Chronicles of Perdition)' is an album that tries too hard to fail laterally. This is an album that prefers to crash and burn so terribly that Don McLean may noodle through a song about it, that Tommy Lee would love to neglect it at a pool party, and that has strung itself up by its own umbilical cord rather than experience the pain of seeing its own misshapen visage burned by the light of day. This is an album that surely did not make it far past the drawing board and somehow is burning itself into my ears, like ice picks tipped with sulfuric acid, just to make way for thoughts as banal as this album's ideas. As hard as this band attempts to be ugly, it simply sounds crass, phony, and annoying. As hard as this band tries to be avant-garde, it merely comes across as unlistenable dreck, but at least it's not as bad as Chepang, Nic, Mutilated Messiah, or many of the other unutterable failures that populate a realm hell-bent on reveling in mediocrity in order to feign depth in its pathetic poetry. This album needs to be heard like I need another höllen my zwang.