We’ve touched the tip of the iceberg when it comes to black metal here in the U.S. We’ve talked about a handful of pioneers of the USBM genre (i.e. Usurper) and we’ve touched on some of the most essential bands of the genre today (i.e. Wolves In The Throne Room). But whenever you have a conversation about black metal and the U.S. of A. you better be sure that someone at some point mentions Absu.
The USBM scene stylistically followed a very similar trajectory to the one the European scene followed…only about 7-10 years behind. So while the European scene was in it’s storied second wave by the early 90′s with bands expanding the genre and adding all sorts of symphonic elements the U.S. scene at this time was really still in its infancy. Much like the infancy of the European black metal scene US “black metal” bands more closely resembled thrash hybrids experimenting with black metal elements. One such band was Dallas, Texas’ Absu. Upon their formation, Absu was (and still are) masters of the thrash-black metal hybrid although their sound over the last few records has become more and more progressive, adding in elements of prog rock, folk metal, etc. But when they started out they thrashed like a mother. However their association with Osmose Productions (a predominantly black metal label out of France) and the various mythologies that surround their lyrics (Celtic and Sumerian mostly) gave them a air of black metal right from the start.
In 2001 Absu released their fourth full-length album, Tara, on Osmose. Tara is still considered by many to be this band’s finest hour (although I’d argue they are still putting out some amazing material). On this record the band really started to take their experimentation to the next level. They had always dabbled in adding little elements like flute, synths and random bells for example. But the songwriting itself seemed to take on a more experimental tone on this album. One listen to the track “Stone of Destiny” could probably do a better job explaining the various elements at play here than I could. I think this song pretty much epitomizes the awesome ability of crossing genres that this band is capable of.