Today we discuss, wait for it, technical death metal. That sentence alone is probably enough to send forty percent of the readers leaping for the ‘x’ button to close out this article. But if you haven’t yet closed out and you are ready to listen to a quality example of what a genre can be, when done properly, you’re in luck. Because Abhorrent have produced an album of expansive and diverse takes on technical death metal. Intransigence is simply a fantastically enjoyable and accessible album. Despite pure technical ability, no one is showing off; rather the band is playing as a unit and producing some very pleasing death metal to boot.
The world of technical death metal is a virtual minefield. There are the bands that started it (e.g. Death, Cynic). There are the bands that took it on a road towards grindcore (Nile, Suffocation, Pyrexia). There are bands that add atmosphere, some melody and darkness to the mix (Ulcerate, Gorguts). And, finally, there are bands that attempt to move the genre into a futuristic, sci-fi landscape (Artificial Brain, Element). Abhorrent falls somewhere closest to the bands that add atmosphere and melody although they do add their share of grinding blast beats into the mix.
The mix of sounds isn’t that much of a surprise when we consider who makes up Abhorrent. The grind influence is clearly derived from Marlon Friday who also plays in Absvrdist. To drive that influence home, Friday is joined by drummer Lyle Cooper, also of Absvrdist (and ex-Faceless) for Intransigence. The mind-blowing basswork is courtesy of none other than Erlende Caspersen of Spawn of Possession (and also Deeds of Flesh and Blood Red Throne). Nick Brown handles the vast majority of the vocal work although there are a few guest appearances to take note of. First Trevor Strnad (Black Dahlia Murder) assists on “The Elegance of asymmetry.” Matthew “Chalky” Chalk (Mephistopheles) provides guest vocals on “A Lightness of Mind.” There are also guest appearanaces on guitar as Malcolm Pugh (Inferi) rips on “Ifrit” and Antonio Ascencio (Serocs) shreds on “Ill Conceived.” That’s a whole bunch of people to cover.
The result, which is far more than the individuals, is actually rather astounding. A project laden with so many egos and simply so many musicians should normally lack for cohesion and progression. Yet Intransigence does not. It sounds like a work of its own. Despite influences from other genres and related acts, Abhorrent is it’s own entity; sharing more in common with Ulcerate and Artificial Brain than any of the associated acts.
Intransigence is, as you would expect, an inordinately heavy album. Typical of the technical death metal sound, the drums are ablaze with fills and rapid fire rhythm changes. But there is a perfect balance of down time. Times when the guitars lead the way and the rhythm section provides a backbone to the six-string ambiance. And the bass work is remarkable. I have noted a few times that 2015 seems to be the year of clean bass. While it’s a bass tone that has poked it’s head up before, it’s never appeared so prominent as it has in 2015. Intransigence is no different as Erlende Caspersen effortlessly glides over the fretboard providing a range of influences, melodic support and plenty of direction.
If you’re one of those people that just hate technical death metal because you hate the genre and everything you believe it stands for that’s fine. You’re going to skip this record. But, by doing so you’re really missing out. Abhorrent creates death metal. Sure, they are technically skilled and they use that to alter tempo and rhythm while driving their music forward; but to write them off is to make a huge mistake. Intransigence is a fantastic work of death metal, sub-genre aside. So listen to this one with open minds and you will likely be taken to heights of metal you never thought possible.