It’s not every week a tech death album comes out (2015 isn’t quite 2014…yet) but this is another that is certain to divide fans. Sticking out from the rest of the pack requires more than just technique, technique which Abiotic spare no time in showcasing on their sophomore Metal Blade release, Casuistry. An all round enjoyable turn from the Florida musicians, Casuistry takes genre preconceptions and runs with them, incorporating some of the rowdier moments of their debut album. The record as a whole however, doesn’t quite know where it sits between the Abiotic of old and new.
It’s the familiar techniques of Abiotic that first spring to mind. Experimentation with timings and tempos makes for some devilishly snappy head banging. In it’s heaviest moments, this album is far more crushing than 2012’s Symbiosis. The careful timing and execution of the breakdown ‘Violent Scriptures’ can only come from a band with a strong background in brutal. Not just slapped on for effect, it separates from the riff preceding it with a careful pause. ‘Cast Into The Depths’ is the most coherent track on the record; a particularly enjoyable riff comes back around with a vengeance before devolving into a truly mosh worthy passage. These are easily the two most enjoyable tracks here. At their best, Abiotic have matched The Contortionist‘s heaviest moments on Exoplanet. Alas, where The Contortionist thrived on that album with experimentation in ambiance, Abiotic have merely tinkered with these techniques.
The musicians involved in the creation and performance of this music are talented. Don’t assume this next tirade is saying anything to the contrary. The lead work on this album is eccentric and exciting and the rhythm work is as tight as can be. Individual riffs are terrifying with intricacies, followed by the bass note for note in some cases. Where can it go wrong? Well, it’s all a bit predictable. ‘Reanimated Destruction’ and ‘The Absence Of Purity’ both take from their titles. The formula of blast beats into slow, ambient cleans is reanimated and reused in every track. Every single track. Where is the harm in having one or two shorter tracks that have a clear start and finish? There is a lingering absence of experimentation outwith their use and abuse of time signatures and tempos. It’s just all been done before. The Jekyll and Hyde vocal performance also doesn’t help. Deep, booming lows are left confused as to why the high pitched screams are so weak in comparison. It wouldn’t be as much of an issue if the highs didn’t show up on the same sections of each track.
To re use the comparison. This is a Jekyll and Hyde album. There’s enough to love and enough to hate that it should see repeated spins from fans of the genre. While their growth as a technical death metal act is easily confirmed, they have plateaued at a point where their peers are hot on their heels. There will be more tech death albums released this year and where Casuistry ranks among them is too hard to tell. The positive thing is that this young band are comprised of some of the most talented metal musicians out there and surely have more to experiment with in the future.
Abiotic’s Casuistry gets…