The Abyss - The Other Side/Summon The Beast
Nuclear Blast
Black Metal
16 songs (58:40)
Release year: 2001
Nuclear Blast
Reviewed by Aaron
Archive review

The Abyss was a black-metal side project of a very well known person, namely, Peter Tagtgren. If you don’t know who he is, why, then I suggest you beat yourself in the head with a Bury Your Dead, Deadtofall, It Dies Today, or The Dead Shall Dead Remain CD until you pass out and wake up with good musical taste. Or in some sort of mental hospital. The drawback to this plan is that mental hospital stereo systems –take it from me- suck.

Peter Tagtgren is the main axeman and vocalist for the first-tier death metal band Hypocrisy, and a world-class producer. What this man touches turns to gold, and The Abyss is no exception. Even though, in this case, its black gold seeped in the venoms of a million demons, raked through forests of needles and deserts of glass, and finally used to cut pentagram-shaped holes in the foreheads of six-hundred-sixty-six angels. This is some serious black metal shit here, folks. No operatic vocals. No keyboards. No symphonic orchestras. No pretense. Nothing except brutally vile and sickening, pestilent, black metal. This is… okay; I suppose you get the idea by now. Onward.

The Abyss had a short life, unfortunately… ‘ol Peter reappeared once more after the absolutely BRILLIANT debut, The Other Side, to write Summon the Beast, which was essentially more of the same, not that I’m really complaining. He came back one more time to ‘remaster’ them both and stick them together in one CD, creating one of black metal’s best compilation CDs. I listen to this religiously.

The lineup is… Hypocrisy. But Peter’s playing drums. And bass. Lars and Mikael handle the guitars with all the finesse Peter used to. Essentially, they’re all masters of every instrument, so what the fuck does it matter? Peter’s bass and drum playing is right on target, and the shredding is on par with the best stuff Hypocrisy has ever done. After listening to this, you’ll wonder why Tagtgren doesn’t play the drums more often.

On to the songs themselves. This has very nearly an hours’ worth of music when you factor in all of the Summon the Beast songs along with the original recordings. The production is slicker then newly laid asphalt, a landmark for black metal production, in an era when most bands tried to prove how ‘kvlt’ they were by placing the recording equipment a room away from where they happened to be playing.

Exquisite little slices of hell, these songs are, and one especial bonus would be the masterfully evocative and artful (if using such adjectives in a black metal review is allowed), cover of Hellhammer/Celtic Frost’s raw, aggressive classic, Massacra. This is the best cover of Massacra ever put to vinyl, nearly surpassing the brilliance of the original. Peter re-imagines it and makes it his own while preserving the message and integrity of the gritty original. It’s certainly light-years ahead of Emperor’s lousy cover from the Tribute to Celtic Frost compilation CD.

Anyway… the opening track of The Other Side starts the album in rare style, evoking Heaven Shall Burn era-Marduk in terms of guitar tone and relentlessness, and for causing headaches during prolonged listening sessions. Blastbeat mayhem pervades here, bleeding forth from the speakers in a statement of antagonistic wrath blended with shredding guitar riffs executed with almost ludicrous technical skill and precision. Unfortunately, Peter’s endurance wanes soon enough and there are numerous fitting tempo changes within the confines of these songs. That’s alright, not like I wanted a grindcore album. If I wanted blasting for the whole CD, I’d be listening to Altered States of America or From Enslavement to Obliteration. Despite that, Peter is, truly, one helluva drummer, and reminds me of the fellow from early Absu, with his penchant for complex fills.

Anyway, there ain’t much more to be said. The Other Side and Summon the Beast is an amazing slice of black metal, and well worthy of the CLASSIC tag, but I'm refraining from giving it that, since I've already got a buch of classic reviews to enter.

Buy, enjoy, and never, ever, put this in the back closet.

Killing Songs :
All, but especially Massacra
Aaron quoted 98 / 100
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