Released: 2014, Helvete & Hate Records
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
From their dark late-90s beginnings, Abgott have come a long way. Since their Italian inception, the band has relocated to England, and now to the USA, though most members beside frontman Agamoth still reside in Britain. Having spent much time in the London scene obviously had some impact on the writing of this album, their fifth LP which follows on from 2009’s Godfather In Black, as themes of betrayal, traitors and revenge heavily present on this record. It’s clear that the hateful fire that first fuelled Abgott is still burning, seventeen years later.
With a live feel and thick production, Masters Of Illusion is an intense journey, spanning eleven tracks, and for those with the special edition- three more. Here, we hear the frame of black metal be pushed outwards and distorted, with highly technical passages, vortexes of awkward time signatures and explosions of soloing from the near Virtuoso Agamoth Sabbath. Broken up by weird and dark instrumentals, such as opening track “Black Heart”, and number five, “Incubus” the field of play is broad here, with traditional heavy metal influences near dominating some sections, such as the intro to “Children of the Vortex” with its King Diamond feel. These influences are further proven by the bonus track cover of “Heaven and Hell” by the mighty Black Sabbath, which proves entertaining although slightly gimmicky with its out-of-place female vocals.
At times the overly technical outbursts can feel clustered, and the crunchy guitar tone doesn’t lend itself all too well to what the musicianship demands. However, the drumming of Vordhr, known also for his work with UKBM outfit Primitive Graven Image is impressive and startling, as it glides underneath the cackled and angry rasps of vocalist Agamoth.
With repeated listening, some tracks become catchy and pleasing, most notably “Sinister” and title track “Masters of Illusions.” Though not the best black metal record you will have heard this year, it may be one of the most original, and the most intriguing to those not previously familiar with Abgott. Up there with previous efforts such Fizala and Artefact Of Madness, this album is another worthy addition to the group’s now building and longstanding back catalogue.
Review by Jarod Lawley