In a year which has seen death metal acts breathe new life into the genre, one or two are always going to miss the mark. For most, the newest offering from California’s Abysmal Dawn will undoubtedly fall into this category. By no means a riff by numbers effort, Obsolescence just does not have the requisite charm or surprise to make it anything other than a pedestrian effort, left to stand and watch the more advanced of their peers sprout wings and take flight.
Prepare for butthurt. This album is boring — tech death riffs that never really extend too high up the fretboard, drums that switch from blastbeat to a slow stomp and there could very well be no bass on this record, such is the lack of its presence. ‘One Percent Incomplete’, ‘Inanimate’ and ‘By My Demons’ are just three of the tracks that could be pulled out of this album and nary a soul would notice. While a lot of time was probably put it into crafting these songs, there is no substance here. Where is the creativity and songwriting that has bands like Disentomb and Hadal Maw creating memorable death metal?
It takes the album 80% of its run time to get to the only two tracks worthy of any extended description. Preceding that the listener is subjected to banal mid tempo death metal, with an occasional flourish of intricate guitar work to perpetuate the realization that the band definitely have talent – talent which desperately tries to claw its way out of the lackluster mire. ‘The Inevitable Return Of Darkness’ manages to squeeze in some tasteful lead guitar, more than a couple of riffs worth windmilling to and an exemplary and out of place harmonizing guitar outro. A far cry from all before it. The album closer also has a redeeming quality, though by this point it has indeed been left a touch too late for complete redemption. The melodeath vibe that keeps ‘Night’s Blood’ interesting could have been utilized to turn several bland tracks on Obsolescence into something more palatable but alas, it was not to be.
This is a tired, waning effort that is not recommended for multiple listens, it will just irk the listener that there is promise that never delivers. The album does sound great though. The vocals are clear, not overpowering and the general production of the instruments is sharp without being polished and never too distorted to make out the riff. If only there was just a bit more going on. Solid production and one or two great tracks does not a classic make however. Abysmal Dawn may not quite be obsolete but it is going to take a far superior record to really get them back among their peers.
Abysmal Dawn’s Obsolescence gets…