12 Jacket (3mm Spine) [GDOB-30H3-007}Those readers familiar with my reviews may have guessed that I have a bone to pick with modern death metal. In reality, it’s more like a small skeleton. I love death metal, and I’m no retro-fanatic, but the vast majority of death metal that’s been made this decade is about as inventive and impactful as a marshmallow gun. The genre has always risked stagnation through competition, but as of late it’s a pissing contest between dozens of bands trying to be more technical, more brutal, and louder than everyone else, and none of them succeed. Abysmal Dawn is a bit of an outlier in this culture of challenge-urination because they’re ostensibly not trying to one-up anybody but themselves. By doing away with the pretense of competition, they’ve already released two very solid records that stand on their own as confident, competent, and, consequentially, very memorable. On the advent of their third offering, I’m pleased to report that Obsolesence is in every way the equal of Programmed to Consume and Levelling the Plane of Existence.

So why is Abysmal Dawn so good? Well, there are many reasons, but first and foremost is of course, their writing. The band is neither obsessed with complexity nor compositionally reductionist and somehow manages to write diverse, yet extremely focused albums that just plain work. Obsolesence has few if any bummers and little in the way of standouts, and while the songs are easily distinguishable from each other, they’re all very obviously from the same source. You could slap any four songs from the album onto each other and they’d make an killer EP, but here we get nine songs and 40 minutes of pure death with good writing, great performances and no pretense whatsoever, plus a little gift at the end.

JohnAnthonyHaddad4Placed exactly where it should be, the album’s best song “Loathed in Life/Praised in Death” is pure black gold from start to finish, segueing its opening melody into a series of interlocking grooves that drummer Scott Fuller sells every second of. The song’s chorus is catchier than the measles, and when the vocals are so excellently delivered by the vocal cohort led by Charles Eliott, it’s impossible to ignore. And speaking of vocals, this album has them all over the place, not only in the shape of Eliott’s remarkably understandable growls, which are again very prominent in the mix, but in twisted and contorted forms created by the backup vocalists and heavy use of effects. “Loathed in Life/Praised in Death” uses heavily processed whispers and screeches to accentuate its grooves, while “By My Demons” opts for a sloppy, gang-vocal chorus that delivers just the right level of madness.

Across Obsolesence, the band doesn’t miss a beat, and from “Human Obsolesence” to “Inevitable Return to Darkness,” performances are to notch. The riffs range from pinch-harmonic screeches to grooves that are so far in the pocket you’d swear the band was shoplifting razors. Solos appear periodically (the best of which is on “Perfecting Slavery,” contributed by Obscura‘s perennially excellent Christian Muenzer) and are always a kick in the pants, especially after a big melody, as seen in “Inevitable Return to Darkness.” Behind all of this is drumming that ranges from great all the way to excellent and basswork that clicks into the songs seamlessly. The mixing of the album is quite good, and while the production is still pretty brickwalled, it has a classic death metal quality to it that I can’t quite put my finger on which makes it way more listenable than most of the death metal that has come out this year.

JohnAnthonyHaddad2

In addition to a great album, Abysmal Dawn can’t help but give a little more, and so Obsolesence’s final offering is a cover of Dissection‘s “Night’s Blood,” which is completely kick-ass and very true to the original in addition to fitting the tone of this album very well. That’s right- it’s a cover that actually has a place on the album.

Earlier this year I declared The Kennedy Veil‘s Trinity of Falsehood to be the mile marker for what death metal sounds like in 2014; not excellent, not bad, and just about entirely run-of-the-mill. Obsolesence, on the other hand, is what death metal should sound like in 2014. It’s a celebration of the genre and a tribute to what can still be done with a format that has evolved very slowly over the last 30 years. For those who are fed up with the rat-race of death metal, Obsolesence is a must-have.


Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Relapse Records
Websites: Facebook.com/AbysmalDawn
Release Dates: EU: 2014.10.24 | NA: 10.27.2014

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  • I like me some tech death and I’ll definitely check this one out. That said, where’s the record of the month for September? It’s nearly November, mind you.

    • Kronos

      It’s all AMG’s fault.

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      and they were doing so well this year too…:)

    • Doomdeathrosh

      true! everyday i come back to AMG expecting a change in background! yet here we are….AMG I hope its not opeth thats keeping you behind!

      • Opeth was also September’s record o’ the month. Also October’s.. and Noveeember’s…

        • Doomdeathrosh

          didn’t expect anything less!

    • Jukka Alanen

      I have a theory that the best album of September had so terrible album cover that AMG is going to skip it altogether. :)

      • Grymm

        Oh, the one with the sphere on it?

        *RUNS*

  • anonbr666

    From reading your review, I was expecting at least 4.0 as a score.

    I loved this album, though I only heard it through streaming so far, and I would give it a 4.5 personnally. Can’t wait to blast it in my car =)

    • Kronos

      Was wavering in between this and 4.0
      There are no real issues, but it doesn’t really ever defy expectations. Very good album, but probably not end of the year material, since it’s not really groundbreaking in any way. Pretty much what I expected from the group.

      • This is kind of my problem with Abysmal Dawn (aside from the name). I hear them and I go “Wow. This is death metal. Very well done. Yup. Death metal.” It’s not a bad thing, but they never blow me away.

        • SMOHLG

          Now, I’m about the plebeist pleb to ever pleb, but is it really all that bad that there are good, enjoyable albums that don’t shatter the Earth’s crust and redefine genres? Do we really have that expectation at all times for every album? Am I too laid back? Do I need to get angry???

          • Kronos

            No, it’s great to see records like this, like the debut from Gluttony, etc. But we’re not giving out 4.0+ for records that don’t do anything exceptional. This is a good album and I definitely recommend it, but its impact overall isn’t going to be huge.

          • Not at all! That’s why 3.5 is a completely respectable score at Angry Metal Guy. It’s when bands start to break the surface and do stuff that really just makes me fall in love when I start breaking out 4s, 4.5s and 5s. And I like Abysmal Dawn, I listen to them, but they don’t blow me away.

          • SMOHLG

            When are we gonna see that 4.5 Earthborn Evolution review???

          • Kronos

            That’s up to me now.

          • steve

            The problem is the drummer. The guy has great speed and great technique, but his time sucks. He knocks the band slightly out of time every twenty or thirty seconds, trying to jam too much stuff in. After repeated listens, you’ll memorize all his weaves, and the songs sound okay. But that is why this band never really breaks thru. It’s a shame, because this could be a really awesome band.

          • Name’s Dalton

            This it fascinating to me, and I’m going to listen for it. And I love Abysmal Dawn and find the drumming to be quite tasty.

            I read a review on Pitchfork (so sue me) written by Grayson Currin (whose worki enjoy and respect) of a Pelican record where he lambasted the drummer. It changed the prism through which I listened to their music, and my God, that drummer has less imagination than a Fortran program. Metronomes provide better fills.

            Anyway, listening to Abysmal Dawn now. Still awesome.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    Im pretty keen to hear this,
    I’m still hammering Horrendous at the moment that record has really got my interest in quality unpretentious DM going.

  • SMOHLG

    JUST GIVE THEM A GODDAMN 4 SO WE CAN ALL SMILE AND HUG AND SKIP INTO THE SUNSET.

    Seriously though, no matter the score, it’s always great to see positive reviews. Plus the artwork and vinyl is badass, they could have covered show tunes and I still would have wanted to pre-order.

  • TminusEight

    Digging the linked track…!

  • Excentric_1307

    Saw these guys live, and I gotta say, the review translates to the live performance as well. It’s sort of a group that you get the sense they’re never going to be a headliner, but a really solid support band. That said, I enjoyed the show quite a bit. It just never blew me away.

    They could have gained another half point if they had a bigger orb on the cover though.

    • I recently saw them live myself and I was pretty damn impressed. The new songs they played made me eager to hear this album and they were very tight and heavy.