All photos by Melanie Hathaway
By Andy O'Connor (TX)
[Ed. note: Absu were forced to cancel their Chaos in Tejas appearance, as Proscriptor was rushed back to Texas following their Maryland Deathfest performance to perform surgery on a knee infection, and unfortunately will not recover in time for Saturday's show. Nonetheless, we wish him a full and speedy recovery.]
One could argue that Absu drummer Proscriptor has a cult of personality revolving around him. There's the infamous interview in the American Underground Black Metal tape where he speaks about magick...with a 22 oz. Bud Ice in hand. He auditioned for Slayer after Paul Bostaph left, and allegedly Slayer rejected him because he was TOO evil. Most of all, there's his chops. They've long been the backbone of the DFW unit's black thrash onslaught, going on more than two decades strong. Absu's winning streak continues with Abzu, which scales back some of the grandiosity of their previous records without sacrifing the essence of the band. Proscriptor's percussion prowness and banshee wails are on full display, and the rest of the band, bassist Ezezu and guitarist Vis Crom, contribute to knotted, thrashy arrangements that rank among the group's finest work since their Equitant/Shaftiel days.
I spoke with Proscriptor about Abzu's direction, former Mayhem guitarist Blasphemer's inclusion on the album, what he really drinks instead of Bud Ice, and more.
Crustcake: Abzu recalls the thrashiness of the band's earlier works. Where do you see it in the Absu canon?
Proscriptor (drums and vocals): The main objective in the realm of ABSU is to never formulate the same album twice within the discography. Abzu is the first album to feature latest members Ezezu (bass guitar/vocals) and Vis Crom, (guitar) which euphonically displays a violent, yet more thrash vibe. The latest album also clocks in at a flat thirty-six minutes, which is a shorter-than-normal duration for our full-lengths, but as previously stated, discographical diversity is the key.
Crustcake: What is the general composition process for Absu? Are songs written around drums, or it is the other way around?
Proscriptor: This process works in one of two ways: usually, the guitars are initially composed and the percussive implements are interweaved around them or I draft general arrangements and hand them over to both Ezezu and Vis Com. Ezezu is a guitarist as well, so they both equally distribute songwriting delivery.
Crustcake: Some of the 70s prog influences found on Absu are still in Abzu, namely "A Song for Ea" and the ending passage of "Circles of the Oath." How do you see those influences working into the band?
Proscriptor: I am a vast admirer of this musical movement and feel it’s extremely eminent to incorporate these elements inside the music. I have always wanted to be a part of 70s influenced progressive band, but the next best aspect is filtering these inspirations within the compositions of ABSU. At any rate, it shall happen rather soon.
Crustcake: How did you get Blasphemer to perform leads on Abzu? What made you seek him out for this record?
Proscriptor: Actually, he performed the solos on the last two albums and will continue to proceed with the third part of the trilogy titled Apsu. We have had stalwart camaraderie with the members of Aura Noir for many years now and have always been immensely fascinated with Blasphemer’s playing execution.
Crustcake: Abzu is lean compared to Absu and Tara, clocking in around 36 minutes. Was it intentional to have a shorter record?
Proscriptor: Yes and I shall explain why: the aforementioned releases were well over the fifty-minute mark and we wanted to devise a shorter, express release. Also, each member of the band is geographically scattered across the country, so it’s not as convenient to rehearse; nevertheless, it successfully worked.
Crustcake: Drumming the style that you do and singing at the same time must be, to put it lightly, quite physically demanding. What sort of preparations do you undergo so that you're in optimal condition to perform?
Proscriptor: I run approximately twelve to fifteen miles per week, so this specifically helps with the calisthenics of performing and signing simultaneously.
Crustcake: Chaos in Tejas ran into some controversy early on and had to drop El Paso black metal band Nyogthaeblisz due to some groups protesting the band's anti-Semitic views. Death metal band Disma cancelled shortly thereafter due to mounting questions about singer Craig Pillard's past. In a little over two decades as a band, has Absu ever been the subject of a forced cancellation because an organizer or other bands on the bill took issue with Absu's stances, musical or otherwise?
Crustcake: Absu's interview in the American Underground Black Metal documentary is legendary, to say the least. What do you remember of the making of the film? What were you watching while the interview was conducted? Is Bud Ice always your drink of choice?
Proscriptor: I was listening to Cottonwood Hill by the legendary psychedelic band Brainticket and at the time, those thirty-two Bud Ice “brain grenades” were my choice of oat soda. Today, I usually stick with clear, clean cocktails and avoid beer due to extensive caloric intake. (Gin/Vodka Tonic, Etc.)
Crustcake: In this live clip of "Pillars of Mercy" from Holland, you're wearing a shirt that says "I Love Proscriptor." It's an interesting item. How did you come into possession of it? What other noteworthy offerings have fans made for you?
Proscriptor: ABSU’s tour manager had that shirt personally made as a joke and I happened to sport it that particular evening due to a few guests that were present.
Crustcake: I also wanted to ask you about the Starchaser Network project you had with Equitant. It's definitely different from your work in Absu - lots of Giorgio Moroder vibes. What did you get out of that project? Is there any chance it may become active again?
Proscriptor: Equitant and myself are fanatics of late 70s disco and early 80s electronic/new wave and wanted to collaborate on a different project outside the customary guidelines of ABSU. I released the self-titled album in 2007 on my label, Tarot Productions, but to be honest, the reception was not taken seriously. Personally, I feel it’s a noteworthy release and there is a niche fan base, but I’m uncertain what the future holds for Starchaser Network.
Crustcake: Any other comments you'd like to make?
Proscriptor: Thank you for the interview and to all who holds the eternal flame for mythological occult metal.
Absu will play at Red 7 on Saturday with Black Witchery, Ares Kingdom, and Terrorism. Loss, sadly, had to cancel.