There’s been a couple of changes within the line-up of this UK death metal band namely they have a new drummer and lead guitarist Dan Danby and Ross McLennan respectively. If you have seen this band you will know they are excellent live and with two excellent releases out already (an EP and album) the band hits us with the sophomore. Without the promo information I would have been ignorant of the fact that the band has gone for a conceptualised approached based around Geoffrey Chaucer’s ‘The Canterbury Tales’ focussing on the rather despicable character called ‘The Pardoner’. Added to that the cover art for the album is brilliant, created by German illustrator Karmazid and sets the scene for the sonic violation you are about to indulge in.
“Soothsayer” begins as an intro piece initially with serene piano, eerie and haunting, the track conjures images of lonely walks before being brusquely shattered by a massive drum fill and blast. Reading the promo info alarm bells rang when I read the band took the reins on the sound and production as this can have terrible consequences but the end result is staggering to say the least. As the opener approaches its close the air bristles with energy ready for “Heretic Sacrifice” which detonates with an explosion of drumming which is truly magnificent on the album. Ashley’s vocals are theatrical, taking the listener through a variety of moods but keeping the temperament vitriolic as the riffs teem from the song. The first of the epic songs arrive in the form of “Votive Offerings” which has a moody powerful riff initially before dropping it into a short riff break and punishing blast beat. As the track evolves the tempo dynamics fluctuate smoothly with fluxing power affording the song copious variety that will catch the bands fans out and may even raise their eyebrows a little, but this is still Abhorrent Decimation, no doubt at one iota, even when the song flings itself off a cliff for a very subtle mellow guitar piece that is eerily delivered towards the songs climax.
“Granted Indulgence” explodes back into familiarity with a gargantuan riff and double kick as the song writing reveals some excellent trickery giving the band a new direction without losing any intensity. I must admit I was enthralled with the more experimental tracks on this album which isn’t to diminish the other songs which are utterly pulverising but “Conspire” is just awesome, having a dramatic riff and powerful rhythm undercurrent. The guitar hook that is nestled within the song is addictive, it almost goes unnoticed but it is essential to the song, giving it reams of charisma as the songs billows within a layer of double bass that adopts a pattern to match the riff. The lead break is excellent too well positioned and extremely tuneful as the song shifts its pace down to a slower grisly poise and deep gut churning vocal delivery. Battering, beastly and utterly nihilistic “A Scythe In The Dark” is punishing from the off, beginning with a slamming riff and with maybe a guest vocalist, not sure who, (CJ from Thy Art Is Murder maybe, sounds like him).
Closing this album is the title track, clocking over nine minutes it is an ambitious composition loaded with groove. The song starts smoothly in melodic death metal style before notching up the pace gradually intensifying the vocals as a nifty guitar hook is injected. The blast beats are sporadically bolted into the track as the riffs drill into the foundations at various points, counterpointed by those extremely addictive hooks I keep banging on about that I like so much. The song descends into a very tranquil piece backed by keyboards and string like arrangements. Grief stricken, the section is doleful and acts as the outro to the album and will definitely challenge the bands established fan base but music is about reaching new heights, challenging oneself and setting new goals and Abhorrent Decimation has certainly done that. This new release is sure to propel them to the top of the UK death metal scene and should see their name spread further afield because this album needs to be heard by death metal fans the world over. Me, I am looking forward to catching them at Bloodstock and in September at the Slamfest in Leeds. Stunning, breathtaking and a contender for top five death metal release of the year.
(9.5/10 Martin Harris)