Saturday, 2 June 2012

ABYSMAL DAWN - Leveling The Plane Of Existence (2011)

01  The Age of Ruin
02  Pixilated Ignorance
03  In the Service of Time
04  Rapture Renowned
05  Our Primitive Nature
06  Perpetual Dormancy
07  Leveling the Plane of Existence
08  Manufactured Humanity
09  My Own Savior
10  The Sleeper Awakens

Abysmal Dawn is an American death metal band from Los Angeles, California formed in 2003 by Charles Elliott (vocals/guitar), Jamie Boulanger (guitar), and Terry Barajas (drums). 'Leveling The Plane of Existence' is the band's third studio effort released by Relapse Records on February 1st 2011. Vocalist Charles Elliot is the only original member left in the line-up, joined on this record by Mike Cosio (bass) and Scott Fuller (drums).

The first thing that stood out for me on this album was its production value. It's funny I mentioned that they sound like Hate Eternal, because this album was mastered by none other than Erik Rutan, and his expertise really shines through here. The whole thing sounds crystal clear, but not in that sterile, overproduced way. No, what I mean by that is you can clearly hear everything going on at once; from the beefy riffs to the machine gun drums and shredding solos, nothing is left out. I wouldn't say it sounds organic, but it definitely sounds like real people playing real instruments and doing a damn good job at it, which leads me to my next topic, the music itself. The music presented on 'Leveling the Plane of Existence' is very well written, settling comfortably into that gray area where it's not tech death but still much more technically proficient than your average death metal band. These guys didn't just slap a bunch of heavy-sounding riffs together and call it a song; no sir, you can tell by listening that the band put a lot of effort into crafting their songs, spending a lot of time writing and revising until they felt everything was just right. Each song flows smoothly and no two songs sound exactly the same, as is the the problem with so many other bands these days.

There are a few surprises on this album, like the exotic, Eastern overtones on "My Own Saviour" and clean guitars and melodic atmospherics on the churning, lumbering closer "The Sleeper Awakens", featuring a brilliant, epic guitar solo that stands out as among the more memorable moments on the album. The individual performances are precise and well-delivered, although Charles Elliott's vocal delivery falls short of being anything noteworthy, settling instead with a functional but lackluster style.

While it has to be acknowledged aren't accomplishing anything strikingly original on 'Leveling The Plane of Existence', the finesse in execution and the mature, self-assured songwriting and refreshingly restrained arrangements largely make up for this shortfall, culminating in a solid, well-rounded and consistent album from a young band that only needs several tweaks and refinements to its formula before it establishes itself as a competent big league player.

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