Abbath – Dread Reaver – Album Review

Artist: Abbath

Album Title: Dread Reaver

Label: Season Of Mist

Date of Release: 25 March 2022

I’m probably not the best candidate to pen a review for the new album from the legend that is Abbath. For years, he wowed black metal fans with his exploits within Immortal and since his departure, has released some well-received and highly lauded material via I and as a solo artist under his own name. However, aside from a couple of Immortal albums that I hold dear, I’ve never been the biggest fan of the Norwegian artist, leaving the worship to others that have a closer affinity with his music.

Nevertheless, I was eager to take a listen to Abbath’s latest offering, ‘Dread Reaver’, to see what the guy was up to these days. And who knows, the way the last couple of years of exploration have gone, it might be that this new record changes my whole outlook and opens up a new avenue for me to plunder.

Unfortunately, that has not happened. And it has not happened because I really cannot get on board with this record. The frustrating thing is that it isn’t necessarily the music within the compositions themselves that are the sticking point for me. At least, I don’t think so, because it’s the production that hampers almost all of my enjoyment of ‘Dread Reaver’. The record, produced by Abbath himself, isn’t one of those ‘recorded in a biscuit tin’ lo-fi affairs that is the preserve of the black metal genre predominantly. Instead, what could have been quite a powerful final product is, to my ears, really rather messy, caused by an unevenness between the instruments. You all know my love of the guitar, but on ‘Dread Reaver’, the stringed instruments are left out in the cold to a certain extent, pushed way back in the mix to a point where it feels like they are left out in the wilderness to fend for themselves. In the case of the bass of Mia Wallace in particular, I barely even know she exists which is a shame.

With such a prominent drum sound, Ukri Suvilehto’s skins and cymbals dominate, only adding to a production that I find so difficult to listen to. I want to get into the music in more detail and explore the nine compositions but listening to this mix is just too uncomfortable as far as I’m concerned. It’s quite a feat to produce something that sounds so loud, but at the same time so indecipherable.

If you think I’m being harsh, just take a listen to the opening track, ‘Acid Haze’. It’s well named because there might be a decent song in there somewhere but from the moment that the metal onslaught increases in volume, you’re hit with a cacophony that is incredibly hazy and muddy. The lead guitars of Ole André Farstad are so muffled they are robbed of any bite, and the riffs are hard to make out under the battery of drums. Admittedly, the vocals are as spiteful and venomous as ever, but it’s not enough to save the day.

And so it goes on. There are flashes of potential littered across the album such as the seemingly groovy mid-tempo stomp of ‘Dream Cull’ with its intriguing dark acoustic intro. But overall, I’m so fed up and disappointed with the production, that I can’t summon the interest to delve into the music and listen with the detail I normally do when putting together a review. I’m just irritated, and the irritation grows the more I listen if I’m honest. There could be a fine album here, but I simply can’t hear it.

Before putting this review together, such as it is, I did read some positive comments about ‘Dread Reaver’, so I would definitely consider seeking these out in order to achieve some balance, and to help you make up your own mind. I’d hate you to give this album a wide berth on my word alone. But I have to speak as I find.

For longer-term readers of you’ll be acutely aware that I generally like to focus on albums that I like, giving them the attention that I believe they deserve, leaving the negative reviews to others. On this occasion though, I felt compelled to talk about this record, because it shows that even the best in the business can drop the ball. I take no delight in writing this review, but I felt I had to do it nonetheless. Hopefully normal service can be resumed very soon.

The Score of Much Metal: 53%

Check out my other 2022 reviews here:

PreHistoric Animals – The Magical Mystery Machine (Chapter 2)

Kvaen – The Great Below

Michael Romeo – War Of The Worlds, Part 2

Dark Funeral – We Are The Apocalypse

Carmeria – Advenae

Agathodaimon – The Seven

Moonlight Haze – Animus

Hellbore – Panopticon

Konvent – Call Down The Sun

Idol Of Fear – Trespasser

The Midgard Project – The Great Divide

Threads Of Fate – The Cold Embrace Of The Light

Arkaik – Labyrinth Of Hungry Ghosts

New Horizon – Gate Of The Gods

Cailleach Calling – Dreams Of Fragmentation

Tundra – A Darkening Sky

Sylvaine – Nova

Hath – All That Was Promised

Sabaton – The War To End All Wars

Kuolemanlaakso – Kuusumu

Oh Hiroshima – Myriad

Godless Truth – Godless Truth

Shape Of Despair – Return To The Void

Eight Bells – Legacy Of Ruin

Embryonic Devourment – Heresy Of The Highest Order

Serious Black – Vengeance Is Mine

Allegaeon – Damnum

HammerFall – Hammer Of Dawn

Immolation – Acts Of God

Veonity – Elements Of Power

Nightrage – Abyss Rising

Arjen Anthony Lucassen’s Star One – Revel In Time

Pure Wrath – Hymn To The Woeful Hearts

Dagoba – By Night

The Last Of Lucy – Moksha

Arð – Take Up My Bones

Embryonic Autopsy – Prophecies Of The Conjoined

The Devils Of Loudun – Escaping Eternity

Cult Of Luna – The Long Road North

WAIT – The End Of Noise

Abysmal Dawn – Nightmare Frontier

Amorphis – Halo

Nordic Giants – Sybiosis

Persefone – Metanoia

Vorga – Striving Toward Oblivion

Mystic Circle – Mystic Circle

Nasson – Scars

Burned In Effigy – Rex Mortem

Silent Skies – Nectar

Celeste – Assassine(s)

Abyssus – Death Revival

SOM – The Shape Of Everything

Ashes Of Ares – Emperors And Fools

Beriedir – AQVA

Lalu – Paint The Sky

Nocturna – Daughters Of The Night

Battle Beast – Circus Of Doom

Lee McKinney – In The Light Of Knowledge

Descent – Order Of Chaos

Aethereus – Leiden

Toundra – Hex

Ilium – Quantum Evolution Event EP

Power Paladin – With The Magic Of Windfyre Steel

Necrophagous – In Chaos Ascend

Infected Rain – Ecdysis

Wilderun – Epigone

You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here:

2021 reviews

2020 reviews

2019 reviews
2018 reviews
2017 reviews
2016 reviews
2015 reviews

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