In Abatuar’s South American Hell

ABATUAR: Mortandad

Release year: 2020
Label: Dunkelheit Produktionen

The promo sheet describes Abatuar’s second album as a mixture of old school grinding death a’la Repulsion and the bestial war metal of Proclamation and Black Witchery. And you know, for once, the promo sheet is quite dead on! I guess it’s a matter of perspective, but I’d say it’s the other way around, bestial black metal laced with liberal amounts of primitive death metal… but I digress, the promo sheet is for the most part dead on. No abundance of fancy words to conceal this Panamian band’s – or one man project expanded with session musicians – style with exquisite bullshit.

Now you know what Abatuar sounds like, at least if the names dropped above mean anything to you. If not, go educate yourself and then come back.

So, then, now that we’re all familiar with the musical backdrop Abatuar draw influence from, let’s dig deeper. It will come as no surprise to you that the music on Mortandad is primitive, crude, straightforward and violent. The riffs sound like they’re not so much played as beaten out of the guitar, the drums sound like they’re hammered with animosity, and the vocals are a deep, indecipherable guttural rumbling. There’s certainly no finesse or intricacy to the musicianship here; there’s just violence.

The musical parallells to the bestial black metal of aforementioned Proclamation and Black Witchery are prominent and run deep. There’s the same kind of boneheaded simplicity bolstered by ferocity. However, equally prominent is the influence of rotted old school deathsters like Repulsion – also mentioned above – or why not really early Carcass. You can hear the balls-to-the-wall insanity of classic putrefying deathgrind here.

Add to the mix a somewhat unspecified but equally undeniable dollop of South American brutal insanity, the kind so many of those classic extreme metal pioneers displayed in their early days, and you’ve got a pretty good indication of what Abatuar sounds like.

And best of all, sole member Cadaver and his temporary cohorts make the best out of this pungent combination of influences. It’s one I daresay will have appeal to fans of extreme metal coming from any of those three backgrounds: whether you crave for more bestial black metal chaos, slaver for some primitive old school death metal, or scream for some authentic South American Hell, this is for you.

Sure, Mortandad is slightly one-dimensional in its expression. I mean, despite combining several forms of extreme metal into the album, Abatuar do draw from genres characterised by pretty similar aspects: crudeness, primitivity, straightforwardly violent expression. There’s an almost punk ethos to the no-frills-no-finesse grind of the album. And perhaps that means you won’t be spinning this every day for the next 20 years. But that doesn’t lessen the accomplishments of Mortandad: it’s a strong album, whether you look at it from a death metal or a black metal perspective.

And so, in the end: it’s true that Mortandad isn’t a very progressive album. But I’d be surprised if it tried to be. It doesn’t inject much of anything new into any of the genres it edges itself into. But on the other hand, whilst not being the epitome of originality, it’s also not the most generic, dime-a-dozen sounding album either. There’s too much of old school grinding death here for it to be the most generic bestial black metal, and too much primitive old school black metal for it to be the most typical phlegm-dripping deathgrind. And when it’s delivered with such brazen, brutal ferocity as here…

…well, things are good. I remember listening to Abatuar’s debut full-length Perversiones De Muerte Putrefacta a long time ago on Spotify and not being too impressed. I am impressed by Mortandad. I’ll have to give the earlier material another go with my new-found appreciation of Abatuar’s rotting art.


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