Abigor - Austrian Symphonic Black Metal
Interestingly, the two greatest black metal bands to come out of Austria have been so closely interconnected as to share bandmates. Those two bands would of course be Abigor and Summoning. Both bands also shared a common musical thread, although Summoning went on to be slow, melodic and beautiful, Abigor went on to be spacey and strange. However at their beginnings they shared very much.
Abigor formed in 1993, with P.K. and T.T. After going through two vocalists (one of which would go on to form the brilliant darkwave band Dargaard) and recording several demos Summoning vocalist Silenius joined, he would stay with the band until the recording of their fifth album. Signed to Napalm Records they recorded their first album Verwustung/Invoke the Dark Age. After recieving much good press over that brilliant album, they recorded a MCD (mini-CD) titled Orkblut - The Retaliation, a concept album about a pagan warrior who finds his inner heathen strength and ends with his death in battle. The mini-album featured uses of acoustic guitars and other elements to help place Abigor in a style like Satyricon or Ulver, meaning medieval black metal, but with their own distinctive sound.
In 1995 they recorded their second full-length, Nachthymnen (From the Twilight Kingdom), which is often considered their best album. Differing from their last release, it's more symphonic, more obscure and shadow ridden. The band then began to record their third album, which ended up being released as two seperate EP's Horns Lurk Beyond the Stars and Blut Aus Aeon and then combined into Opus IV. This album shocked some listeners as it was very technical, strange and kind of mystically spacey. It was also their most direct album since Invoke the Dark Age. But in 1998 with Supreme Immortal Art the band returned to a more shadowy atmospheric sound, more like their first three releases.
During 1999 when the band was recording Channeling the Quintessence of Satan Silenius left, perhaps to focus on Summoning, who knows, they replaced him with Thurisaz and continued to record, releasing the album later that year. The album featured a transparent production and was in many ways their Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk, the end of their previous existence, yet still retaining some hold to their values of six years before. It is a very heavy and aggressive album, and might even put off fans of their earlier work. After it the band went a little crazy.
Released in 2001 Satanized (A Journey Through Cosmic Infinity) wierded many fans out, being a sci-fi journey into very strange territory. It was also highly technical, with little atmosphere. It marked the destruction of their lives as medieval black metalists for sure. Their last release was a MCD titled In Memory, which featured re-recordings of two older songs and two covers. The band has now broken up, though the leading members have formed other bands aparently.
The bands early music is intense stuff. The songs are very complicated and emotional, listening to one song sometimes can drain me. This is true of all their best releases. The music is built up of series of note patterns on guitars or keyboards, played at fairly hyper speeds, but without the extreme whiplash of Emperor's later stuff. There are few bands to compare them to, except themselves, though certainly some elements remind this listener of bands like Satyricon. The music as one person described it, is often reminiscent of baroque music, with the complex counterpoints and harmonies that happen within even one song. The fact that the band could keep this going over a period of 6 years, four albums and one MCD is astounding, particularly since you can note that they never lost any of their creativity. Even on their last album, no matter how disapointing and overly whiplash-like it was, they kept a lot of creativity.
The best part about most of their music is the atmosphere. They captured a strange medieval feeling throughout, making this listener feel like listening to their albums is a lot like stepping into a magical and dark world. That feeling alone puts them easily in the ranks of bands like Burzum, or others who form my elite black metal list. If nothing else pick up their albums up to Channeling the Quintessence of Satan (including that one), particularly if you are fond of melodic and real symphonic black metal (that is also very harsh and uncomprimisingly atmospheric).
1994 Verwustung / Invoke the Dark Age
1995 Nacthymnen (From the Twilight Kingdom)
1996 Opus IV
1998 Supreme Immortal Art
1999 Channeling the Quintessence of Satan
2001 Satanized (A Journey Through Cosmic Infinity)
1995 Orkblut - The Retaliation
1998 Structures of Immortality
2001 In Memory
1998 Origo Regium (This is a compliation of demo tracks from the very early days of the band).