Abysmal Dawn – Leveling the Plane of Existence Review

Abysmal Dawn // Leveling the Plane of Existence
3.0/5.0 —A solid tech-death record.
Label: Relapse
Websites: abysmaldawn.com | myspace.com/abysmaldawn
Release Dates: US: 02.01.2011 | EU: 14.02.2011

Abysmal Dawn - Leveling the Planes of ExistenceI’ve been waiting for a long time to get to Abysmal Dawn’s new disc Leveling the Plane of Existence. Having had a 2010 that was sadly devoid of mind-blowing technical death metal (excepting Hour of Penance’s Paradogma), I was really looking forward to a slab of technical death metal mastery that is being sold by Relapse as the savior of American death metal. While I wouldn’t go that far, Abysmal Dawn does offer up some solid technical death metal that is well-played, well-written and full of enough novel ideas and good riffs to make the record enjoyable. And the band has a unique, melodic voice that separates it from the pack.

Abysmal Dawn is a solid technical death metal band in the vein of Psycroptic, Decrepit Birth, Anata and others. However, whether or not they’re up to that same level is up in the air. Leveling the Plane of Existence has some excellent tracks on it, to be sure. The short and sweet “Manufactured Humanity” stood out for me the first time through, because the main riff while simple, was definitely infectious. “In Service of Time,” the third track on the record, has a great groove at the beginning and is generally mid-paced throughout, but it’s loaded with great harmonies and smart writing, not to mention great solos and superb guitar tone. Abysmal Dawn even wanders into doomy-esque Nile territory with the slow riff at the beginning of “Perpetual Dormancy” only to land in At The Gates territory with the harmonies that follow it up in some of the most well-constructed song writing on the record, flowing seamlessly from one idea to the next without interruption and without seeming remotely forced.

Abysmal DawnAnd while thinking about the construction and sound of the record, the production on this CD should not be overlooked. While certainly we don’t spend a lot of time talking about production these days because any band signed to any label worth its salt can afford state-of-the-art production these days, but the mix on Leveling the Plane of Existence is superb, and unlike Psycrotpic, Hour of Penance and Fleshgod Apocalypse the drums on here sound more natural (though I’m sure they’re replaced). This makes everything that happens on here sit perfectly, which is good because few things are more annoying when listening to death metal than a snare drum that blocks out the riffing.

All of that said, though Leveling the Plane of Existence is not a scene defining record. It’s pretty much what one expects of technical death metal. While there are excellent tracks as mentioned earlier, there are also some tracks that might even go down in the “filler” category, like “My Own Savior” and the sleeper of a final, and frankly cheesy, track “The Sleeper Has Awakened.” These songs have some good parts, but I doubt they’re band’s strongest material, and they certainly don’t live up to a lot of the other material on the disc.

Still, the final product of Abysmal Dawn’s third album is definitely on the good side of the spectrum. The record is good and the band is definitely talented as hell and has developed a unique voice. The technical skill, and especially the guitar solos, stand out as some of the best I’ve heard on a death metal record in a long time. These guys aren’t spending time imitating Kerry King or Trey Azagthoth but instead have developed a much more melodic approach to the guitar solos that definitely plays well with this style, something that sets them apart from other more technical bands that are putting out records right now. So while Leveling the Plane of Existence might not be scene-defining, it is definitely worthy of a listen for fans. And it might even prove a gateway to the scene for non-fans.

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