Diabolicum – IA Pazuzu (The Abyss Of The Shadows)

Genre: Black Metal
Country: Sweden
Label: Code666 Records
Year: 2015

Who among you remember these Swedes and their exquisite, 1999’s “The Grandeur of Hell (Soli Satanae Gloriam)“ debut? Not many, at least judging by their metal-archives entry. Diabolicum were more or less shaded by Mysticum, the Norwegian pioneers of “mechanized” sound, but also by the whole Norwegian avant-garde black metal scene, due to both their musical approach (which, while quite similar to Mysticum’s, was not a copy), as well as timing: the debut was released at a time when Norway was highly productive on the avant-garde field. As a result, Diabolicum did not make the breakthrough with their debut, nor with 2001’s more electronic “The Dark Blood Rising (The Hatecrowned Retaliation)”. The band, although never formally disbanded, sports a huge discography void between 2001 and 2015, broken(barely; only one song recorded) only by 2005’s “Hail Terror” split with Angst. Groups rising from the dead is a nowadays phenomenon, and Diabolicum (although never strictly dead) finally decided to unleash their third album this year, under the title of “Ia Pazuzu (The Abyss Of The Shadows)” – it seems that they still use the same denomination motif -, just a few months after Mysticum’s return with the delicious “Planet Satan”.

In this year’s album, Diabolicum keep on doing what they know best: Mysticum- and Zyklon-B-influenced(as far as riffs are concerned) black metal, with a flowing and abysmal attitude and keyboards that have communed deeply with their early Emperor counterparts. Mechanized (programmed) drumming, which adds to the album’s industrial character through its dry and monotonous sound. Some electronic effects and loops are present here, remnants of the sophomore album, intertwining with radio-like samples, which although expected from a release of this sub-genre, are quite pleasurable and contribute towards the album’s darkness. The record is quite diverse, and although the blazing tempos are dominant, the Swedes are not avert to adding several mid-tempo moments (“The Silent Spring”), attuned to the album’s mechanical nature. The guitar solos scattered throughout the album can be considered the logical evolution of the omnipresent trademark guitar leads. Vocals have assumed a more growling and angered hue, in comparison to the past, sometimes evolving into extreme rasping. The album’s production is solid, having the necessary clarity, being certainly darker than that of the debut, and less grainy. Finally, one can find some nuggets of Greek black metal ore, atmospherically speaking, in the “Angelmaker” track, due to the keyboards’ attitude, as well as to the concise, melodic guitar sound – a pleasant surprise.

There are not many flaws in “Ia Pazuzu (The Abyss Of The Shadows)”. One could perhaps claim that “The Abyss of The Shadows” and the album’s namesake closing track are somewhat protracted industrial/ambient moments. Or one could argue about the riffs’ originality. Personally, I could not care less. This album lives up to the band’s name, it surpasses their sophomore attempt, and is on an almost equal footing with “The Grandeur of Hell“. Marginally better than Mysticum’s “Planet Satan”, one will be hard-pressed to find an industrial/black album of recent years that manages to surpass this one.

Highlights: “The Void of Astaroth”, “Genocide Bliss”, “Angelmaker”