I remember once reading a webcomic (Scandinavia and the World, to be precise) which joked that while the other Nordic nations are undeniably metal, Denmark got left behind somewhere. Sweden has a wildly divergent death metal scene, Norway has black metal and Finland likes Viking metal and bands with singers who sound like Sarah Brightman, leaving that pocket of islands with Mercyful Fate and few others to keep the horns held high (for the sake of argument, I’m discounting Iceland, even if Sólstafir rock). Rising’s 2011 debut did a lot to change that, a sludgy yet effortlessly accessible beast that decorated the slick hooks of Baroness with the steaming entrails of its enemies, and it was a stark reminder that when the Danish do something, they make sure to do it right. ‘Abominor’ still has that same thirst for ribald catchiness and violent momentum but, most importantly, it’s much more aggressive in its approach. They’ve toned down the NWOBHM-isms and taken a leaf from Scandinavia’s top-tier crust bands, keeping the massive choruses but making them stronger, faster and more likely to kick you in the head.
Opening with a growing industrial hum, it takes ‘The Disdain’ a few seconds before launching into a steady d-beat pulse and for Henrik Hald’s ursine monotone to kick in, a raspy bellow that sits oddly with the rapidly scything guitars yet seems perfectly suited to convey the band’s desperate, fragilely human themes. In tone at least, it brings to mind Disfear’s manic energy, most notably in the unstoppable impetus of its first rush of percussive hostility but also in the heart-swelling bravado that it evokes, a sound that makes sitting still an uncomfortable option. The new-found punk spirit continues to stand strong with ‘Reproach’, though in a more straightforward manner, simply steamrolling through on a bile and venom speedball. On the songs where they more fully revert to their old habits, such as the sludgy ‘Leech’, the results are somewhat underwhelming. ‘To Solemn Ash‘ worked in its consistency, and it seems that this has become their modus operandi.
Thankfully, ‘Leech’ is succeeded by the album’s strongest offering, the needling ‘Suffering Nameless’. Listening to it, it’s a wonder that this album wasn’t snapped up by Deathwish as it fits right in with their handiwork. It’s got the rock’n’roll bite and crafty guitarwork of Doomriders, the scintillating energy of Rise And Fall and even a touch of Touché Amoré’s ear for melodies that could conceivably turn a crowd into a riot of adrenalised lunacy. Rising show, once again, that while they are accomplished musical mockingbirds, they combine their ingredients with the care and precision of seasoned chemists, abandoning neither song nor feeling but fusing them into shout-along chimeras with fire in their veins and blood on their claws. The martial battery of ‘Gaunt’, the Matt Pike-worthy solo of ‘The Malice’ – they’re stand-alone moments that are rarely replicated yet they work precisely because of this intuitive cut-and-splice genius.
‘Abominor’ might have a different sound and tone from its predecessor but the fact that the same DNA runs through it is self-evident. It’s a huge, furious effort yet it’s so easy to abandon yourself in that your dad would probably enjoy a few of these tracks, even if he might not admit it.
Unfortunately, it seems that the album has brought the often-played ‘creative differences’ card to the table, with two-thirds of the band having since departed. While they will continue in some new form and these songs will get the chance to explode before our eyes at some point next year, will they be the same? Who knows, but if they’re anything like they sound here, prepare to pump your fist like you never have before.
Scribed by: Dave Bowes