“Atmosphere” is a highly lauded goal in Metal, and many bands across different subgenres will devote themselves to trying to capture it.  Playing long, slow tracks, using repetition of riffs and beats and incorporating Noise and Ambient elements to support the Metal are all popular ways of being “atmospheric”, and there are usually no shortage of people (me included) to spout a lot of hyperbolic rubbish about how X band sounds like travelling through a black hole backwards into the heart of a dead star, or something.  The trouble is, of course, that being successfully atmospheric is harder than some bands make it sound – to put it crudely, there’s a fine line between being atmospheric and being boring.  On Hecate, Abaton do not succeed in staying on the right side of that line.

The music on Hecate is slow-to-mid-paced “atmospheric” Black Metal with sparse riffing and ambient noises to flesh out the sound.  They seem to be aiming for a similar territory as that occupied by bands like Blut Aus Nord or Aosoth, and it’s a worthy ambition, but Abaton don’t succeed in capturing any of the power or sinisterness that makes those bands so interesting.

I’ve listened to Hecate around five or six times before writing this review, and I still find it impossible to recall any moment of music from the album.  It drifts past idly in the background, inoffensive but not catching your attention or intruding on your thoughts in the way that this kind of music needs.  By aiming for the more atmospheric end of the scale they miss out on the straight-forward attack that can cover a lack of ideas in more aggressive BM bands, and the sparse, echoing structure of their songs makes it very clear how little is going on.

Searching for the positive, the musicianship on Hecate is competent, they’re consistent in their sound and at least they’re borrowing their ideas from good bands.  At the moment, though, the execution completely lets them down, and it’s hard to recommend and album so characterless and devoid of ideas. [4/10 – RICHARD THE INFERNAL OVERLORD]