Born in years of maturity of black metal, ABIGOR has represented the explicitly Satanic side of the genre. It is this aspect of black metal that many consider to be its authentic ideological roots. Satanism here is to be understood in light of a theistic metaphysics, and not in a disguised atheistic mockery of Christian religion. ABIGOR taps into the several expressions that the worship of the Horned One has taken throughout the pre-history and history of Europe, even through the imposition of the desert religions from above, not shying away from ancient, medieval, renaissance, romantic or modern sources, and thus enabling them to continue exploring this natural influence through different aesthetic angles while maintaining a personal voice.
The harmonious and the melancholic that are part of the character of this early exposition gradually step back into the background in the works that followed, however never quite leaving and always residing somewhere in the shadows at the heart of ABIGOR.
Starting with Verwüstung – Invoke the Dark Age, ABIGOR displays an interesting structuring that is through-composed and open-ended, which remained defining elements within their music. The former term refers to a musical composition whose structure does not contain any long-range repetition of sections; meaning that while a single section may make use of repetitions of a riff, this section will not be encountered again once it has been traversed. The implications of open-endedness in music may be the result of any one in a variety of reasons. In the present case, it comes from a double reinforcement in the form of a particular kind of pattern relations and the inconclusiveness of harmonic direction. These two work together towards the same end, while the second has an additional function.
Rather than being connected through a theme, or even section-skipping motif relations (when a single motif is not used in adjacent sections but instead ties up more distant places within the music so that cohesion is achieved within a complex or unconventional structure), the character of each next step in the song brings a new picture in a changing landscape. Consistency is maintained through the incorporation of a particular set of techniques that are used in a loosely-defined, kaleidoscopic style that nevertheless converges into a concrete picture. Narrative cohesion is all but palpable, remaining rather abstract and deeply emotive. The chaotic aspect is due to this peculiar division that reaches both upwards and downwards while leaving the rational mind grasping for a thread of logic that cannot be gained except only vaguely through intuition.
The successfully theatric or soundtrackesque approach boasted of in the debut became a hallmark, leaving decisions regarding usage of Church modes and texture free to define each release. Verwüstung distinguishes itself by a preponderance of classically-bent consonance in harmony and counterpoint, as well as a pensive sparseness always imbued with meaning. The common mistake of untalented musicians of leaving empty space and assuming it will acquire meaning on its own is dexterously avoided. The harmonious and the melancholic that are part of the character of this early exposition gradually step back into the background in the works that followed, however never quite leaving and always residing somewhere in the shadows at the heart of ABIGOR.
Nachthymnen was released only a year later, after a shorter publication earlier that same year. This all indicates that it was, in all likelihood, part of the same initial spring of inspiration that gave birth to the first. Evidence of this is found in the album itself, which plays like a slightly more refined version of Verwüstung, with the majority of improvements belonging to the surface layer of the music. Other than that, it is, for all means and purposes, the same spirit. Why then, is this considered such an important album for ABIGOR?
All this, expressed in poetic slights of hand in the mystic vein, hence incomprehensible to the profane eye, but nonetheless full of meaning for those with eyes to see.
A just inspection of the quality of the releases, reveal that although there is a meritorious concretion of earlier ideas present here, the transcendental mentality of the artists involved point towards the need to search for additional reasons. The missing piece of this puzzle can be found reflected on the lyrics to the songs in the second album, which when compared to the preceding, display a sharpened vision in denser mythological references, greater knowledge and intent. All this, expressed in poetic slights of hand in the mystic vein, hence incomprehensible to the profane eye, but nonetheless full of meaning for those with eyes to see. Music-wise, it is also in Nachthymnen that the denser and chaotic aspects of ABIGOR start to take hold, incurring in obscuration of single expressions and sections, and giving importance to the whole before any one detail.
Progress as a straight line is an illusion, what we see are changes dictated by a pendulum that swings between form entrapment and chaotic bursts of creativity, and whose pivot advances upon an unfathomable path. ABIGOR proceeds through each step along the motion, instead of waiting for the next swing towards stability takes place.
Skipping ahead we find the next actualization taking place in Channeling the Quintessence of Satan, in which we see the seeds of a more holistic and abstracted approach growing beyond the still graspable metaphors of their early work. The plethoric expansion of refined riffs that both bear the seal of ABIGOR yet feel all the same unfamiliar, as if descended from a different sky, is mirrored in the lyrics, which by now have become hymns of allegiance to Satan. These reflect the cryptic character of the riffs, puzzling yet incredibly allusive, speaking to the subconscious and activating symbols connected to archetypes, but bypassing conscious attempts at deconstructing it. This is esoteric music par excellence.
Flow between sections within songs has been perfected, even though their relation plays more like a sequence of scenes rather than like motif-linked music. Different songs are constructed upon riffs with distinct identities, but the difference between riffs within a single composition is larger than between similar riffs in two different compositions. In this way, ABIGOR produces a work that is both uniform and baroque. Full of details and ingrained with esoteric meaning to be grasped through mystic reflection inside the listener and everywhere without, Channeling the Quintessence of Satan contains the key to the path to be walked by ABIGOR.
Having arrived at a stable form, the only way to keep energy flowing is to allow for forces to keep accumulating towards the chaotic and the unstable, that they may provide the material and direction for the next crystallization. So, while 1999 marks a sort of concretion, when seen with respect to the clear and square forms from 1995, it appears as a melting and movement towards the airy. Several pendulums and cycles occur and recur. It is only logical, then, that the evolution path to be followed would be towards further disintegration, until the limits of some kind of intelligibility were reached. After that, the grand Life Pendulum of ABIGOR would surely have to swing back towards form if the daemon is to remain alive.
The uncontrolled path of the Fool comes to an end in Time Is The Sulphur In The Veins Of The Saint – An Excursion On Satan’s Fragmenting Principle. Here, any inherent sense of order in the music is missing, making it completely incoherent at any level of thought. It appears as if this were the conscious intention, that is, to throw the listener into literal confusion caused not by intricacy but by deliberate incomprehensibility as an end in itself. The result is music that could be considered worthless on its own, and only moderately subpar when understood conceptually as a directly mapped representation. Composition approaches of this kind plague the post-modernist landscape and come about as a common misunderstanding regarding the nature of music and the perception of order and beauty of the human mind. However, this is not the place to expound on blunders of this sort. What is important to our present discussion is how the willingness of ABIGOR to tread all pathways –even those that are barren of artistic worth– allows it to follow the natural course of creative energies that leads to a buildup of ideas which, when reaching a point of saturation, overflow and produce the next stage or state into which they must necessarily coalesce.
The first picture in the swinging back of the large pendulum from unrestrained forces towards order is captured in Leytmotif Luzifer. As such, it is still closer to chaotic expression, but with a more lucid sense of direction, sharing the melodic tendencies of Satanized more than the riff rich textures of the earlier period or the vacuous randomness that was left behind six years before. As ABIGOR now advances in the opposite direction, and experience has accumulated, we find an inverted sign of the past, and more: ideas captured while visiting the extreme realms of disintegration and fragmentation.
The referenced term in the title of the album, leitmotif, is not just used as a poetic flourish, but carries the essence of the constructing principle at work both metaphysically in the abstract concepts being elucidated and physically in the manifested structures of the music. The density of the different textures, tempo, and their rapid changes, make for an overwhelming experience that dazzles most. Those with a keen ear for music, however, can distinguish that the bulk of the content remains on the surface. The underlying current, as it were, which sometimes comes into view from behind the fog of countless expressions, is a motif hidden under extreme variations and adornment layers. We are only allowed to glimpse at it directly during very brief moments, or perceive it in different degrees of condensation, while some moments only let through a lingering afterthought of that melodic idea.
Never is the mystery destroyed by understanding – the false impression of comprehension and intelligence can hide such an edification away from profane eyes, but to undo it lies not in the power of lesser minds.
Song structures are only obfuscated on the surface, random in appearance, while highly organized in the underlying ideas. When this is discovered, the patterns in direction and changes of emotional evocations become transparent. So is being able to follow the mood changes and gesticulations of the devil in this music afforded by awareness of the anchor and source of the multifarious emanations. As with anything worthwhile, intelligibility transforms understanding and deepens appreciation. Acquiring of this key opens the gate to the mystery, and the frontispiece remains as a symbol to be utilized at another level of interpretation. Never is the mystery destroyed by understanding – the false impression of comprehension and intelligence can hide such an edification away from profane eyes, but to undo it lies not in the power of lesser minds.
So, taking the vague contours of melodic ideas as the identity of singular sections in songs, we can start to see a demarcation of limits between them. This division also enables us to look within each of them to inspect alterations, as well as to award them a perceived mood which, in juxtaposition to the rest, allows us to behold an aural progression, and thence, the complicated character of each of these convoluted compositions. This is also possible because, as in the case of the earlier, more conventional works of ABIGOR, a clear and very personal style is maintained throughout the work despite the staggering abundance of musical shapes.
Now, the concept of a leitmotif requires that the motif in question is used repeatedly with a particular meaning in mind. This meaning is meant to be ultra-musical and therefore arising when the literal story requires this to happen. As far as the writer can discern, this does not occur in Leytmotif Luzifer as it would in a Wagnerian opera. However, it is the case that prominent melodic ideas in different songs seem to be motif variations of each other, sometimes taken to the limits of recognizability, but still present. So are descriptions of this work as “lithurgical” only relatively close to the truth. It is nevertheless undeniable that this is a music of deep spirituality expressed intensely.
Under the auspice of this latter realization, the seventh is not a temptation but a glorious climax, and the sixth, the requisite stage.
Significance from intentional allusions ingrained in the structure and aura of the compositions may yet be found herein. Gazing at the structure and taking as guide the underlying melodic ideas, which at times dissipate to the point of being only a nebulous aura, we can observe that the first six pieces contain five such melodic-aural areas, while the seventh track is composed of ten. We may be staring at a conceptual blind, through which the audience is led into believing that the seven pieces refer to the seven temptations. People would easily seek out a direct mapping, and an obscurantist would find delight in the misdirection.
If we were to mingle this theory with the lyrical concepts, we might start to wonder why Excessus deserves two times as much as the rest. Furthermore, when examining the titles, it is clear that the first five are vices, or as ABIGOR tells us, temptations. It is not immediately given to understanding why Compos mentis, the ability to think clearly and to be of sound mind, would be considered in a negative light, even by Satanists. The newly acquired information sheds new light on the following track as well. Why Excessus, which implies going beyond a limit and even death, is highlighted, on the other hand, is in line with more sinister conceptions of reality. Under the auspice of this latter realization, the seventh is not a temptation but a glorious climax, and the sixth, the requisite stage.
It may be the case that the author is straining his eyes too much, and being ignorant of the designs and opinions of the minds behind ABIGOR, is left grasping at shadows. Whatever the situation pertaining these particulars, Leytmotif Luzifer begins the condensation into form along the sinusoidal path to be traced by the infinite evolution of ideas that feed it. ABIGOR accomplishes the present feat with a mastery awarded by an acquired wisdom and understanding from half a lifetime of perfecting their art and craft. It is just and proper to state that this is the most refined and profound work in their catalogue at this point in time. If the Path is not abandoned, the pinnacle may still lie ahead in a work of unparalleled dark and baroque beauty.