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Descending from a Blackend Sky (1993)

Japan is not the first country that comes to mind when most people think of black metal. However, it cannot be totally overlooked. While those in the underground may be aware of the mighty Sabbat, attention should also be given to the earliest material from Abigail. Their first E.P. was released in August 1993, right around the time that Sabbat was losing steam.

Descending from a Blackend Sky offers a nice little dose of filthy black metal. Out of the five tracks, only three are proper songs, with a couple keyboard pieces thrown in for the hell of it. The influences from the likes of Bathory, Celtic Frost and Mayhem can be heard in this maelstrom of chaos, with some similarities also drawn from early Beherit. The vocals are extremely raspy and give the impression of a totally shredded throat. It is done in the old school way, sounding like a more insane Quorthon. Still, despite the Satanic frenzy on display here, there is still a sense of melody. "The Lord of Satan" and "Count Barbatos" features some decent tremolo riffs, while "Mephistopheles" is a slower song that is built around more mid-paced riffs, giving it more of an old school feeling.

The production is good enough for the instruments to be heard, but has a raw feeling to it that suits the music very well. It sounds like something that was recorded in the '80s, to be honest. The guitars have a rough edge to them, and there is just the right amount of crackling and hissing in the background. The levels all check out pretty well, with proper focus on the guitars and vocals, with the drumming loud enough to be heard but not overdone.

For such a short release, Abigail manages to do a good job of getting across their primitive and hideous vision of black metal, which falls right in line with many of the other bands that were resurrecting this style of music around the same time. Descending from a Blackend Sky really does not offer anything all that original, as the band hardly adds much of their own character to the proceedings. Nevertheless, this E.P. is well worth listening to if you are into raw, ugly black metal.
(27 Nov. 2012)

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