As far as I can tell, near the pinnacle of early 90s black metal aside from the obvious. So much of black metal from 91-94 was a mixture of death and black metal into a coagulated mush of extreme metal sound, so as a result there are a ton of form over function bands that end up sounding like ass to fit in with the trend. Absu, despite distinctly copying the now fading zeitgeist of the time, reached a point where both fantastic riff writing, immaculate atmosphere, and brilliant production come together to form what I would consider the peak of all of the music in this style of the time.

The Thrice Is Greatest to Ninnigal in particular showcases the bands best effort, as they don’t go too hard on the synths and orchestration, and deliver some very memorable tremelo riffs steeped in heavy and death metal traditions, with a clear sense of melody despite being obscured by all of the aesthetic bullshit surrounding it. It seems that actually every track on the album has at least one moment where the energy just overtakes the listener and you can’t help but head-bang along, despite that perhaps not being the intention.

That is, except for the mostly sample based/synth tracks. While I think from a pure quality standpoint these are better than the majority of other albums at the time, it’s certainly not Absu’s strength to be atmospheric. This is a riff and head-bang band, and thankfully they would develop more in that direction as time went on. An Evolution of Horns in particular is a very weak closer, in part because it holds to the stereotypes of the era in a record that really shouldn’t. The synth intro and outro are nice and all if you can pull it off, but many bands of that time would’ve been much better off had they just gone a full 30-40 minutes of guitar music rather than trying to be spooky.

However weak ending aside, there isn’t a bad moment on this album until that point. V.I.T.R.I.O.L. is one of the most notable exceptions to the rule of shitty wannabe Mayhem and Bathory copies of this time, and should be revered as more of a classic than it is today. Not just because of who produced it, but because the album itself is really damn good.

 

8.5/10