Formed in 2010, Abiotic released just one EP before signing with the legendary Metal Blade. Hailing from Florida, a great death metal shadow inevitably looms over this Miami five-piece; especially considering that what they do is conceived as technical/progressive death. Apparently weaving the requisite musical dexterity with “lyrical finesse”, their new label evidently places a great amount of faith in what this young band can do. And why not? (However, having taken a quick look at some of the anti-human lyrics on offer, “lyrical thesaurus regurgitation” might have been a more apt description.) But I digress… The real point here is, after all, the music.

The intro, ‘Metamorphilia’, rapidly displays Abiotic’s calibre with a tightly executed burst of punchy, heavy and ominous death metal. The ominous factor raises immeasurably as ‘Vermosapien’ appears with tentative riffs contrasted against “wobbling” bass; one of the cornerstones of any nutritious technical death metal breakfast. For the first few seconds, everything is fine, with a dark feel and decent low vocals. But then… Then… An immense, screeching vocal ear sore emerges. With a pitch similar to that of an eight-year-old who has just had his Milky Way bar confiscated, I’m at a total loss trying to comprehend what the goal is with such strenuously high-pitched efforts. More to the point, who on Earth would find it extreme? Certainly not your average eight-year-old Milky Way addict, and absolutely not, your average death metal fan. This aspect of Abiotic’s sound is as irritating as it is baffling. Musically, things tick along in a nice, timely and technical fashion though sadly, these vocals are not isolated. Add on some faux pig squeals (‘Vermosapien’, ‘To Burgeon and Languish’), and here you have more than half an album’s worth of unintentionally atrocious vocals.

It’s really a great shame as the music exhibits all manner of highly skilled technical manoeuvres. Hinting at the accomplishment and subtlety perfected by forerunners like Death and Cynic, and the mania of a later band like Cryptopsy, Abiotic’s depth is not mere luck. These guys are obviously serious, dedicated practitioners of their respective musical instruments and have studied how to play expertly, incorporating polyrhythms and all sorts of other off-the-wall stuff. Being 2012, there is also a fair amount of polish to the production. When it comes to the meat of things, however, there does seem to be a rather sluggish and pedestrian force at work (perhaps the influence of ‘deathcore’?). If ‘breakdowns’ are considered, evident as they are in many of the songs here, then Abiotic’s take doesn’t remotely compare to the purposeful, Neanderthal type utilised by the likes of Dying Fetus and Devourment. Maybe this is a bi-product of having a nice, clear production; maybe the result of ‘deathcore’; or, quite probably, a bit of both. It’s only a slight disparity in Abiotic’s take on death metal, but there is definitely a ‘user friendly’ vibe to what their sound and delivery entails.

Aside from my reservations about those obtrusive vocals and a little uncertainty as to who ‘Symbiosis’ is designed for, Abiotic are an unquestionably talented band. For that reason alone, they are sure to have their loyal followers in the years to come. Though unless something dramatic changes on the vocal front, I can’t imagine being one of them.

 (6/10 Jamie Wilson)