AGABUS, Mitakuye (2008, self-released)
Though there are about 75 Photoshop layers on display here, the entire cover basically boils down to a Big Dumb Skull and some feathers. At least, those are the elements that catch my eye. It’s not clear how one relates to the other, but considering the origins of the title as half of the Lakotan phrase “Mitakuye Oyasin,” probably some cliched Native American theme was intended. In any case, the core idea is so lacking that it’s easy to see why the artist decided to just pile on with the other shit, like the glowing spots (with lens flare!) for eyes, the streaky background that looks like the cover of a speculative book on string theory, a phases of the moon calendar, etc. It’s not clear why he stopped where he did, but this was made in 2008, so maybe his Mac was just running out of memory.
If we take it as axiomatic that “crossover” was (roughly speaking) a hybrid of thrash metal and hardcore punk circa 1987, then Agabus can be viewed as “crossover ’08”, a horrible Frankenstein of late aughts thrash and millennial hardcore that perversely selects the worst elements of each style for inclusion: go-nowhere riffs, threadbare breakdowns, and vocals like the hoarse, cracking shrieks of an adult throwing a tantrum. About the best that can be said for Agabus is that their album sounds pretty good, and it’s novel to hear toughguy sprechgesang in Italian, instead of Spanish (Ill Niño, I’m looking at you, but there are no shortage of West Coast metalcore bands who employ the device.) Especially infuriating is the sheer length of most of these songs, which all sound like shorter songs played twice in a row. But hey, at least they trimmed the titles down: while their debut was littered with such turgid gems as “Void, Predicant of Nothing,” Mitakuye‘s titles are all single words like “Numby” and “Fiux.” So at least they’ve got that going on.
— Friar Johnsen