A grim blizzard of savage old school aggression and ground-breaking extreme fusion, the new Absu album, Abzu, is the second part of the Americans’ current, ongoing trilogy of mythological masterworks and arguably the most remarkable collection of music that they have produced to date. Founder, drummer and chief songwriter Proscriptor McGovern now leads us through the arcane mysteries and hidden depths of this most extraordinary of blackened tirades…
What has been happening in the world of Absu since the last album?
“We embarked on extensive touring in 2009 in support of the self-titled album Absu. Later that year, guitarist Zawicizuz was replaced by Vis Crom and in May of 2010, Aethyris relocated to Oslo and joined former label mates Pantheon I. It was a mutual decision between both parties, as he departed ABSU on an extremely optimistic note. We then decided it would be best if ABSU were to be reduced down to trio, as it has tightened our live performances tremendously. Anyway, we began composing and arranging the songs for Abzu last year, toured with Immortal in the States in February this year and immediately recorded the new album a week later.”
Are you constantly creating or is there a specific state of mind that you have to achieve before you begin work on a new album?
“It usually fluctuates between both intellectual sensations. If I randomly have a thought or idea, I will cease that particular activity to document my idea(s): both musically and lyrically. For example, when I was composing the lyrics for our newest album, my ideas kept multiplying, which then created new themes for the next album and I find this as a routine formula.”
You all live in different parts of the US…does that make writing and rehearsing a logistical nightmare?
“I will admit this particular album was the fastest paced, for ABSU, in all areas of creating an album: composition, arrangement, recording and mixing. Ezezu began the writing process with the second and fourth tracks on the album: Circles of the Oath and Skrying in the Spirit Vision, which started in early June of 2010. On June 23, I underwent a back surgery procedure called spinal decompression, which did not allow me to play drums for one month. Between July and December, both Ezezu and Vis Crom composed the remaining tracks, as I arranged the longest piece on the album: A Song for Ea. This album has also been the most challenging as well. The current line-up is scattered all across the United States, so the album was physically written utilizing internet file sharing. We even rehearsed, at times, while communicating via cell phones, so there was limited face-to-face rehearsal time. We rehearsed one week prior to a small American tour supporting Immortal and exactly one week after in preparation for the studio experience. With that being declared, we entered in March, tracked the entire rhythm section, composed the Mellotron/lyrical arrangements and had it mixed by the mid portion of June this year. As usual, we tracked and mixed it at Nomad Recording Studios outside of Dallas and engineering/mixing was handled by J.T. Longoria.”
What are the ingredients which makes this such a great line-up of musicians for Absu?
“First of all, thank you for such complimentary words! I would say there are numerous ingredients, such as knowledge, courage, will, ambition, a Thelemic and maniacal sense of mind.”
Please explain the conceptual elements behind the new album and how they tie in with its artwork…
“The trilogy, which consists of the last album (Absu), the new album (Abzu) and the next album (Apsu) is a mere perception, but Abzu is not a concept album – it is a collection of theorems, which ties into both pieces of artwork which represents the album. The CD cover is basically a continuation from the last, self-titled album. The Abzu is Enki’s shrine and the temple in Eridu; a mythical place where life influencing powers reside and the results are incomprehensible, unfathomable and secretive; a place producing raw materials. The Elder Sigil produces such ambiguities placed in the center of the main pillar. The vinyl cover contains an interpretation of the Emerald Tablet of Hermes because it stimulates right brain responses and arouses intuition, imagination and insight. At this point, my verbal explanation is inadequate, but it gives me a starting point to somewhat explain the Enochian cuneiform implication of ‘V.I.T.R.I.O.L.’ sealed within the rim. There are seven Latin words in the statement. In alchemy, the Below, there are seven metals. In astrology, the Above, there are seven planets. In each of us, there are seven chakras. Taken together, they point to seven levels of action internalized by a concocted philosophy classified as the ‘Anzu Ceremony’. In Sumerian mythology, the Anzu Bird is a divine storm-bird and the personification of the southern wind/thunder clouds. This demon, thirty-three percent man/thirty-three percent eagle/thirty-three percent lion, stole the ‘Tablets of Destiny’ from Enlil and hid them on an apex. In conclusion, this is why the tornado appears to lift the seal of vitriolistic nous.”
This album seems more bleak and raw in musical terms, and yet more psychedelic and disorientating at the same time…would you agree? And if so, were those evolutionary steps deliberate or achieved organically?
“The new album is an amalgamation of previous styles, yet a new one for ABSU’s music. This recording appends dirtier elements of psychedelia and fusion. Lyrically, it descends deeper into Enki’s lower world as well Thelemic and Enochian Magic(k) Systems. I can tell you this album is not a natural progression from previous releases, but a feat of metaphysical conquest and murkiness. Ever since the genesis of the band, the main objective has always been to not stimulate the same album on a musical basis. With Abzu, I can honestly say it musically does not compare to prior releases within our discography, including Tara. However, the new album has lyrical intricacy comparable to Tara, but the themes are completely different. I will say out of all ABSU albums, this one has the ‘blackest’ methodology.”
In terms of the metal scene, where do you think Absu belongs? You seem to incorporate so many elements, while still keeping a very strong core identity…do you even recognise black metal (the tag you are most frequently given) as a legitimate genre definition anymore?
“I lyrically concoct mythology and paranormal/metaphysical related topics inside of the music. The cadences and accentuations when writing ABSU’s music express my esoteric lyrical content and ideologies. This is the way I perceive it: ABSU’s music a formation of chaos magic(k) because I believe it can change both subjective experiences and objective realities, though some forms of chaos magic(k) disputes that magic(k) occurs through clairvoyant means. Subconsciously speaking, I am not one with today’s world when writing the lyrics for ABSU. In conclusion, and when I initially joined ABSU, I made a stalwart declaration the band was going to be classified as ‘mythological occult metal’ for several reasons. I predicted the hastily growing trend in black metal in 1992, so I did not want to be known as strictly a black metal band. Lyrically, I was creating advanced lyrical themes other bands were not touching. Plus, we were (and still are presently) a mixture of black, death, thrash, speed and progressive music, so I labeled ABSU a style of its own.”
Your interest in the occult, mythology and ancient magick has been a fundamental inspiration over the years…how has your interest developed over time and how integral to your art have those things become?
“Beginning at the age of twelve, I started delving into hallucinogenic/mind-altering substances, which lead myself into Ordo Templi Orientis, (O.T.O.) Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, Thelemic Magic(k), Enochian Magic(k), Tasseomancy and Necromancy. After discovering the Cthulhu Mythos and the Book of Eibon, this too led to my fascination with Sumerian and Mesopotamian mythology. After the release of ABSU’s debut album, Barathrum: VITRIOL, I then became beguiled by the tracing of our ancestral attributions, (mainly Scotch/Irish) which formulated the lyrical conceptions of Celtic lore; heavily engrossed on all albums up to Tara. As far as useful texts, there are too many to mention, but all of the Typhonian Trilogies by Kenneth Grant have always been a favorite inspiration of mine.”
What can we expect from the third album in this trilogy? Will there be a traditionally resolved conclusion to this journey or will there be an open door leading you and/or Absu to the next creative milestone?
“The third and concluding installment of the trilogy will be titled Apsu, which is the Sumerian/Akkadian spelling of the abysmal benthos: the Primum Mobile. I decided, many years ago, these three albums in the trilogy would primarily be based on anything and everything that is related to what ABSU is all about. I refused to name these three with unique titles, yet I simply wanted them named ABSU (Absu/Abzu/Apsu) differentiated by their sleeve designs. Prematurely speaking, Apsu may very well be the last ABSU album.”
What are your plans for the next year or so? Will Absu be touring extensively…and if so, where?
“I am striving for sheer promotion for Abzu with an abundant amount of live performances in support. Then, we shall build anticipation of composing and arranging the next album. The release date for Abzu is October 10th for Europe and the 11th for North America. We will be performing at several festivals for the remainder of the year and will embark on touring for 2012 in Australia, North America and Europe.”