American black metal maestros Absu have had a hell of a year. After emerging from the shadows in early 2007 with several live and split releases, main man Proscriptor assembled a crack team of musicians to complete a new Absu lineup and in 2009 and unleashed an unholy beast of an album upon their eager fans. A masterful collection of intricate, diabolically melodic slabs of black majesty, the Candlelight-released 'Absu' is a sure-fire high scorer on year-end lists from here to Timbuktu

The band also hit the road hard, touring across the United States and Europe, appearing at a bevy of festivals and showing no signs of slowing down. After Zawicizuz left the band in early 2009, it fell upon new guitarist Vis Crom to keep the black flame burning.

He commented, "Having been a listener since the near beginning of the band, Absu's music has played a part in my songwriting over the past 15 or so years. In recent times there has been a minor connection between Absu and my other band Rumpelstiltskin Grinder, so it seems like the roads have led to this destination. I have always considered Proscriptor to be the best drummer in metal as far as originality and listenability goes. So subconsciously I've probably dwelt on the possibility of playing guitar with Absu ... but yes, being asked to join was a surprise!" Absu and Rumplestiltskin Grinder released a split seven-inch together and embarked on a U.S. tour, as well.

Joining your favorite band isn't exactly an option that many of us have, unless your name happens to be Tim 'Ripper' Owens, formerly of Judas Priest. But it looks like Vis Crom lucked out as a longtime fan of the Texas horde.

"Absu has always had the top drumming in extreme metal to me," he said. "Even as a guitarist, I really only focused on the drums and vocals, which to me were and are some of the most distinct in extreme music. The old material is full of classic riffs, but the drums demand my full attention and awe. As far as the new record goes, this is when the guitar has become something I grasp onto more when listening to Absu.

"My style of playing is so similar to the guitar work of Aethyris that the album was a clinic to me. In a very stripped down way of saying it, we think of stringed instruments as percussive, primarily rhythm facilitators which to me translated perfectly in the live expression. Playing songs like 'Apzu' and 'The Coming of War' with Absu will always be somewhat surreal to me as I listened to them daily nearly 15 years ago!"