I - Between two worlds 4/5

Reviewed: 3-2-07


1. The storm I ride
2. Warriors
3. Between two worlds
4. Battalions
5. Mountains
6. Days of north winds
7. Far beyond the quiet
8. Cursed we are

Abbath picked a bit of an odd time to get to work on a new band, the same year an Immortal reformation was heating up, so whether or not I's debut CD will turn out to be a one-off is unclear. While the legendary black metal act was at rest from 2003 until sometime last year, one of the things Abbath did to keep himself occupied was playing in the Motörhead tribute act Bömbers, and the influence of the English stalwarts has clearly crept across to his new side band. This is an unexpectedly traditional collection of songs from one of the black metal genre's leading lights, and ought to appeal equally to the less rabidly devout fans of both styles.

With an all-star supporting cast that lists Arve Isdal (brilliantly credited here as 'Ice Dale') of Enslaved, Gorgoroth's King Ov Hell and original Immortal drummer Armagedda, the black metal influence was never going to dry up completely, and 'Between two worlds' is a very interesting cross pollination of the 2 genres.

The music helps itself to very traditional metal influences, but encapsulates that icy Norwegian atmosphere of black metal (now sided with stellar production) to create a rather unique sound. Abbath's vocals, while more toned down than usual, are still his expected harsh croak, perhaps now with a touch of a Cronos flavour to them, and certainly help make for a distinctive listening experience.

The Motörhead and Venom influence is best heard on the opening and closing tracks, "The storm I ride" and "Cursed we are", the 2 fastest and most straightforward on the CD, full of rocking swagger and headed by powerful choruses and total balls-out guitar solos. After the first track the listener would maybe expect a CD full of high adrenaline rockers, but the swiftly proves not to be the case.

The 6 remaining tracks stay mostly in midtempo and focus more on creating a dark and epic atmosphere. Tracks like "Far beyond the quiet" and "Warriors" aren't a great distance from middle-era Bathory, conjuring up images of desolate landscapes and darkened skies. There is more of a conscious leaning towards musicianship than would be found in pure black metal, particularly in the guitar department, with lead player Ice Dale really being let off the leash on a few occasions. This of course leads to a sacrifice of the genre's raw atmosphere to a certain degree, but that was probably the whole idea to begin with.

Lyrics are thankfully provided by Abbath's former Immortal bandmate and long-time collaborator Demonaz, and are up to their expected standard of brilliant silliness. Delivered as usual in only half-assured English and focusing on the usual Immortal territory of winter and death, with the new addition of battle themes, they fit the frozen atmosphere perfectly.

With such an odd concept for a CD recorded by at least 3 very busy musicians, 'Between two worlds' actually comes together surprisingly well, with every song succinctly written – nothing seems too long or short or otherwise out of place here, and if Abbath and Ice Dale haven't in fact put a great deal of work into writing and arranging these songs, then they would be an even more gifted pair of musicians than their respective catalogues would suggest if they can roll out music of this calibre on autopilot. Thoughts like that are academic, however, for 'Between two worlds' has clearly been a loving effort squeezed into a series of busy schedules, and the effort put into creating the CD is to be applauded.

While some fans will inevitably fall through the cracks as it proves too harsh for some melodic metal fans and not grim enough for their black metal counterparts, those whose tastes 'Between two worlds' are suited to will be delighted with this offering from Abbath Doom Occulta and company, and will only be able to live in hope that there will be a follow-up.




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