When it came time to hand out songwriting chops, Satan smiled on Abnormality. The Massachusetts quintet’s debut, Contaminating the Hive Mind, was a throat-crushing extravaganza of pure death metal that capitalized on the group’s seven years together previous to its release. Contaminating is an exemplar death metal record, fusing tight and energetic performance with succinct writing and an ear for brutality that few bands can match, combining the blast-happy drumming of Cryptopsy with hyperspeed Origin riffing. It’s the undead embodiment of kickassery, and expectations are high for Mechanisms of Omniscience, especially after a four-year wait.
The band waste no time with introductions; “Swarm” opens with a lightspeed riff and explosive drumming before giving way to what would be a slam if it were played at half speed. It’s neck snapping from the very first second and a perfect opener for an album that’s excellent back to front. “Synthetic Pathogenesis” sports some slower grooves that are sure to feature in a pit-based hospitalization at some point in the future; it’s a diverse song with a few real curveballs, but still feels cohesive and, at about three and a half minutes, is succinct as well. Later gems like “Irreversible” are just as catchy and memorable, with “Irreversible” sporting a melodic lead that cascades perfectly across its pre-chorus into the chorus.
While Mechanisms of Omniscience slays almost continuously, there are a few hiccups during the carnage. “Vigilant Ignorance” spans six minutes and spends a lot of that time repeating its title over a lackluster slam riff that doesn’t quite go anywhere. The song’s solo is one of the album’s longer and more interesting outings, but most of it’s buried underneath the rhythm guitar, which again, isn’t playing anything particularly exciting. Though the song is a bit of a bore, it’s a small portion of the album as a whole and there are plenty of good songs to make up for it.
Abnormality‘s performances are as tight as ever, and the band’s appeal stems as much from the members’ cohesion as it does from their songcraft. Jay Blaisdell’s drumming is explosive, and his snare cuts right through the sharp distortion of the guitars, becoming integral in some of these riffs. The band move as a unit, and it makes songs like “Cymatic Hallucinations” just that much more kinetic, especially when Mallika Sundaramurthy’s oppressive roar enters to truly consolidate the sound. But for all of their death metal trappings, Abnormality still know how to make music fun, and there are moments spread across this record – especially in its two instrumental tracks – that call to mind the breakneck absurdity of Origin and the forward-thinking riffs of Revocation.
Mechanisms of Omniscience might not be as exciting as the band’s debut, but it’s proof that the group won’t be leaving fans disappointed anytime soon. These songs are tight, well-written and engaging, and the band has a presence that few can match. Abmormality‘s no-nonsense approach to death metal is commendable, especially given the prodigious talents of its members, and the band’s understanding of riffcraft and composition has already gotten them further than sweep-picking and bass breaks ever would. Whatever your favorite flavor of death metal, 2016 is turning out to be a windfall year, and Mechanisms of Omniscience‘s only flaw is coming out during a storm of high-profile death metal releases. If you’re already familiar with the band, be assured that Mechanisms is exactly what you want, and if you’ve never heard them before, be sure to give this album a listen.