Watching a band unfold is one of the greatest pleasures in this world. When a debut album, or even several initial albums, only act as setups for future growth, any enjoyment you’d usually get from a great release is magnified. The band’s history and how far they’ve come acts as a kind of lens, magnifying already present excellence in the light of how far the band have come to get here. Abrams‘ third release, Morning, has such a lens. While their debut full length album, Lust. Love. Loss., was definitely a good release, it also lacked a unique signature to set Abrams above the progressive stoner fold. With Morning, however, they have catapulted their song writing and personal touch, making the album not only great within its own right but also a landmark in the band’s narrative.
The secret lies in adding more influences into the mix, toning down the overwhelming presence of Mastodon on Lust. Love. Loss.. The result is an album which is simply more interesting, sculpting its sound with more restraint and appeal. While the influences in question don’t range too far from Abrams’ basic palette, they do much to add interest to their sound; check out “18 Weeks” for example, which represents a grunge-y type of influence to Abrams’ sound. While the Baroness comparison is too obvious not to make, it’s also worth noting that the track is recognizably not Baroness.
The band achieves this by making clever choices as far as track structure goes. The excellent and uncharacteristic build up near the end, accompanied by very unique sounding synths, does much to offset our expectations and to fully flesh out the musical ideas “18 Weeks” is about. The following, more “open ended” “Rivers” continues this tack. It’s a sort of reborn Abrams; the progressive stoner influences are undoubtedly there (and are even more prominent in other places on the album, like opener “Worlds Away” for example) but they have been tempered by influences from grunge, indie rock, and more.
It’d be an error on our end not to shine specific light on the vocals on the album. Nowhere else on the album perhaps is improvement and growth so keenly felt as on the lead vocals on the album. Whereas the rest of the instrumentation quite successfully reaches out to new places for new flourishes, the vocals truly feel of their own class and style. While comparisons are of course possible (like Wild Throne or Wings Denied), there’s something unique to the timbre utilized on Morning that beggars them. Coupled with the wider-ranging instrumentation, the lead vocals, with their unique tension between almost-hears screams put the final tamp of personality on the album, and make it Abrams’ own.
Mixed with self-awareness, good album flow, and convincing instrumental execution (check out “Can’t Sleep” for some amazing bass segments), the above elements make Abrams’ Morning a quite overlooked album. It presents something which is sorely lacking in the niche within which it is operating; progressive stoner is in dire need of innovation and honest ideas more than it needs new ones. Morning provides just that, a tightly knit package that solidifies Abrams as a band with something to say and a direction in which to go. Hopefully it also puts them on more radars and their next release garners even more traction. They’ve earned it.
Abrams’ Morning released June 9th, 2017 through Sailor Records and can be streamed and purchased through Bandcamp.