The Absence – Coffinized Review

Everyone likes an underdog, and I am no exception. Garnering a solid profile over the years, Florida’s The Absence remain underappreciated purveyors of Scandinavian inspired melodic death, with a twist of Americanized thrash aggression mixed into the equation. Early albums, From the Grave and Riders of the Plague set a high standard, before a lengthy recording hiatus occurred between 2011’s Enemy Unbound and 2018’s comeback opus A Gift for the Obsessed, marking a solid return. Never ones to push the envelope, The Absence have managed to insert enough of their own character into a well worn style to escape stylistic limitations. A tight ball of energy, aggression and melody, The Absence look to double down on their trademark blend of thrashy melodeath aggression, soulful licks, and big hooky riffs on fifth LP, the dubiously titled Coffinized.

Right off the bat “Coffinized” gets the motor running, fiery riffs and a frosty afterburn ignite a tune boasting ample bursts of speed, Gothenburg-inspired melodicism, and infectious hooks. It’s the kind of no-frills, high octane song built to open an album of this regard, climaxing in a frantic burst of blackened intensity. Well into a lengthy career, The Absence show loyalty to their core influences while adopting an ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ motto. However Coffinized doesn’t sound like a lazy retread or tired rehash of their past releases. If anything the album represents a mature encapsulation of their career up to this point, displaying an impressive urgency in delivery, and potency in the writing and musicianship departments. “Choirs of Sickness” cranks the At the Gates influence prominent in their sound, but the band’s character and quality writing push back convincingly against traces of derivation.

The good times largely roll forth as The Absence keep speed and energy jacked, while ripping out killer riffs, propulsive rhythms, and stylish melodicism. Despite being comfortable within the realms of their well established formula, there’s enough variation in mood and tempo to avoid slipping into predictable or one dimensional trappings. Occasional surprises keeps the listener on their toes, such as the nifty acoustic break and clean vocal chants on the aforementioned “Choirs of Sickness.” Most songs hit the mark on some level, from straightforward,  potent barn burners (“Cathedral Dawn,” “Future Terminal,” “Discordia”), to the slick melodic punch and heaving mid-tempo dirge of “Black Providence.” The explosive and irresistibly catchy “Radiant Devastation” perfectly matches searing aggression and penetrating vocal hooks, with an arresting structure and soulful melodicism. The song has an intense feel and emotiveness that packs a real punch, complimenting the blackened sheen which ghosts through the material, lending the album a frostier mood.

Coffinized is perhaps the most complete album The Absence have released since their earlier efforts. While sacrificing some of the rawer charms of those decade plus olde albums, Coffinized teems with tight, explosive instrumental chops and genuinely amped levels of high energy execution. The axe work is particularly noteworthy, as Taylor Nordberg (Inhuman Condition) and now departed guitarist Joey Concepcion (who contributes on a handful of tracks) embellish the Scando-inspired, thrash laced melodeath riffage with expressive leads, infectious hooks, and bouncy melodies that mesh nicely with the album’s more aggressive impulses. The guitar work is reinforced by a water-tight rhythm section. Drummer Jeramie Kling’s (Inhuman Condition) performance is full of beans, his high energy, powerhouse delivery lending important rhythmic momentum and urgency to the album’s speedy core. Meanwhile vocalist Jamie Stewart’s trademark, decipherable snarl gets the job done nicely. Coffinized is perhaps a wee bit front loaded, as momentum dips slightly on occasions during the later half, without ever falling off the rails. Meanwhile the higher quality tunes hint at the greatness that the album as a whole doesn’t quite achieve.

Coffinized delivers a whole lotta fun and should please long time listeners of the band, while potentially converting the uninitiated. It firmly demonstrates The Absence as a confident and accomplished band comfortable in their skin and happy to go about their business without reinventing the wheel. Furthermore it shows they have plenty of fuel left in the tank in delivering a polished, punchy, and enjoyably solid batch of catchy, neck snapping melodeath tunes bolstered by a frantic thrash pulse. Coffinized is not quite a knockout heavyweight album, but continues The Absence‘s dependable knack of hashing out quality material within a well worn style.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: M-Theory Audio
Websites: |
ReleaseS Worldwide: June 25th, 2021

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