Released: 2015, Moribund Records
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
Esoteric Horror Black Metal, anyone? As subgenres go, you can't get much more niche than ABHOR's self-styled brand of black metal, and from the evidence on display with their sixth album, “Rituale Stramonium”, you can see where they get it from. Mixing classic black metal riffs, blasts and vocals with a medieval-style organ and horror film samples; it is certainly a nightmarish listen.
Opening abruptly and with total abandon, “Between Flames & Moon” sets ABHOR's stall out early. No time wasted with wandering intros or anything; just straight into the bloody and occult-filled horror show. The most prominent element is that organ – it sits atop the mix of riffs and blasts delicately, closely following the progression and painting the picture of some form of black sermon. It both makes the album and provides a slight drawback, unfortunately.
Where most black metal bands stick to the tried-and-trusted trio of instruments (occasionally making use of a keyboard for “symphonic” elements), ABHOR use this to add their horror-sheen to proceedings. It works for the most part, but there is a feeling that they didn't go far enough. With a subgenre like the above, you've almost free-reign to go for broke on whatever you want and if you've got that, then just go for it and I mean really go for it. Just following the chord progression, for sure, adds that horror feel to it, but there's a sense that ABHOR could have done more with it. Even outro “Requiem For Erranus Infernorum” feels contained within itself. It's an adequate addition, but something that really could have been blown up to create a truly horrifying sound.
Nevertheless, it doesn't make the album terrible by any stretch of the means – it's good entertainment. There's a slight feeling of a cult B-movie about this, and it would not be surprising in the least to find that this album would fit to any cult slasher. The horror film samples used certainly aid this, though they fortunately stand on their own: “De Exorcismis Et Supplicantionibu” is a fine example of a bloody progression with blood curdling screams, whilst the intro cackle in “The Chant Of The Owl” sets the track up for a real cinematic-feeling.
Whilst you can presume ABHOR didn't aim for it, “Rituale Stramonium” is quite a fun listen – horror samples peppered throughout with an organ whirling away atop a black metal din shouldn't be entertaining like a B-movie slasher, but it is. It may not have been the intention, but the key by-product of it is that it gives the album something that many others fail to achieve: character. It can stand up on its own amongst thousands of others. Horror films, whether A or B-movies are all written to do the same thing, but it's those with a certain distinction that stand out. Fans of these films will all know Hammer Horror for their films because they have a certain character about them, and the same goes for “Rituale Stramonium”.
Review by: Lee Carter