Abgott - Artefact Of Madness
Helvete & Hate Records
Technical Black Metal
12 songs (41:15)
Release year: 2006
Reviewed by Goat
Archive review

One of the frequent salvos fired at the name of Black Metal by the stubborn few that still haven’t been pulled into its dark embrace is that the musicianship is, bluntly, shit. As with most criticism of the genre it’s true, but the accuser has utterly missed the point – the vast majority of the Black Metal that gets pumped into the Metallic atmosphere relies on mood rather than instrumentation, the impact that it has on your spirit rather than on your mind. Of course, this makes room for more cringeworthy posturing and faux-arty rubbish than Power Metal and Folk Metal put together. Being a Black Metalhead nowadays means that you like a handful of bands that do it well, as opposed to practically every other Metal subgenre – any Thrash band will have something worth listening to, for instance, but there’s nothing worse than a bad Black Metal band.

Fortunately, bands such as Abgott exist for those of us that, rather than being content with the same old Darkthrone clones actively seek out the new and original. With Italian roots, more recently having settled in England and become an important part of the London Metal scene, the band is fronted by Azamoth, who teaches guitar professionally and clearly knows his way around a fretboard. Although earlier albums such as 2003’s Fizala were heady sewers of psychedelic wrongness, with Artefact Of Madness there’s a shift in direction towards a more Black/Death sound, the technical skill of the members becoming obvious. Imagine Dimmu Borgir if it cut the crap and actually used the skilful musicians it contains to advance Metal instead of hovering in one place, or Decapitated if the members had been listening to Mayhem’s Chimera album on repeat; Abgott simply reeks of talent, and the songs on Artefact Of Madness could stop the most advanced tech-death band you could think of dead in its tracks.

As mentioned this is more straightforward than previous efforts, the previously frequent electronics being cut down to several short yet effective interludes. After the fifteen-second intro of IV, Kronos’ Cosmic Throne kicks off with a bang, catchy riffing setting the scene before the speed kicks in and some impressively fast musicianship blasts forth. This isn’t the impenetrable and ultimately rather dull technical wankery that some make a living of; Abgott forms songs from the madness, and is as much at home with melody as technicality. The perfect balance is struck; you’ll be banging your head from the first listen, but the depth will keep you listening.

There’s little variation in style, but rest assured that there are few regrettable moments here. The chanted intro to Church Of Necrophilism is cheesy, but the song soon makes up for it with some seriously twisted riffing, and although the title and lyrics may well have you reaching for the cliché bucket, the extended soloing towards the end will have fans of everyone from Haemoth to Hammerfall throwing the horns as enthusiastically as if Judas Priest and Emperor were playing in their bedroom. Experiment In Evil is quite literally Marduk meets Zyklon, whilst later tracks such as Dimensional Labyrinth make full usage of the melodic soloing.

There are faults here – Abgott tries too much to stick to the Black Metal blueprint, resulting in clichéd lyrics, dreadful artwork and an overall lack of spiritual quality that elder statesmen of the scene like Mayhem can produce practically in their sleep. However, for a third album from a band that’s only just seen its tenth birthday Artefact Of Madness is a stunning example of modern Black Metal played with clear talent, with future possibilities of a true classic of the genre. If you are interested in Black Metal for the musical potential more than the increasingly worthless ‘kvlt’ value, then Abgott will be a vital part of your collection.

Killing Songs :
Kronos’ Cosmic Throne, Church Of Necrophilism, Experiment In Evil, Dimensional Labyrinth
Goat quoted 86 / 100
Other albums by Abgott that we have reviewed:
Abgott - Fizala reviewed by Charles and quoted 73 / 100
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