This is my first experience with Abysmal Dawn. This Los Angeles-based metal group is one of many, many American bands trading in the highly competitive technical death metal sub-genre. If you’ve read this column at all before, you know I really have a love-hate relationship with this particular brand of metal. On the one hand, these bands are simply impressive on a pure technical musicianship level. Many of these riffs and blast beats are just so insane that it is hard to wrap one’s mind around how it is physically possible to pull them off. Now, to be sure, there are studio tricks that can be used, but overall the technical chops these bands possess is simply nuts. On the other hand, sometimes the quality of the songs themselves suffer as a result of the focus on the technicality. There is a tendency for some of these bands’ albums to become simply exercises in showing off rather than coming up with complex riffs that actually serve the greater purpose of construction a quality memorable song. This is a really tough balance to achieve and there are TONS of bands in this sub-genre that simply fail to service the songs sufficiently for them to stand out from the remainder of the rabble of technical whiz-kids.
So, how does Abysmal Dawn stack up with Phylogenesis? Pretty damn good, I’d say. All of the technical bells and whistles are present. Super complex riffs and solos and insanely speedy double kick drum. There’s plenty on here to satisfy the dudes that love flash. But, more importantly, there are some really quality songs on here that lift the technical brilliance to a different level. The songs have some groove. There are some memorable hooks for the listener to grab upon. It feels like this is a technical death metal band that gets it and has constructed an album that rips. Take note, death metal dudes. Abysmal Dawn has made a nice fucking statement.
4 flip flops out of 5