Denver trio Abrams show, on second full length Morning, exactly what it means to successfully mature as a band and kick the sophomore slump at the same time. Honestly this is more of a band finding their direction than anything but I digress, Morning is arguably one of the best heavy rock albums of the year. Bold statement indeed but one that’s fully warranted.
Had Abrams stayed the course from their 2015 full length Lust. Love. Loss. we would be talking about how they’ve honed their math/prog and subtle sludge influence into something more well rounded. Or, going even further back with 2014’s EP February we could be discussing how their post-hardcore/noise rock had tightened up. Two very different releases to be certain and, mind you, neither of these early efforts are shabby in the least. But now we have Morning and it’s as if we are hearing a new band with a confident sense of itself and where it was actually aiming to go.
Beyond all that though, there’s so much to sink your teeth into throughout this 42 minute gem. Late 90’s radio rock (the kind you screamed along to because you couldn’t help yourself) begins “18 Weeks” but eventually morphs into a guitar driven jam session. “Can’t Sleep” strikes a sweet balance of ferocity and silky smooth rhythms while “In This Mask” leans heavily on muscular doom rock. Even though “Rivers” is one of the shorter tracks here it is a sprawling landscape of uplifting post-metal marked with the band’s subtle undercurrent of hardened thunder. And just like so many times throughout this album, here Zachary Amster’s scorching guitar work shines brightest with soaring melodies and show stealing solo work.
The overarching theme on Morning is the knowledge that good things eventually come with bad and generally more so than not — the hope and promise of a new day eventually destroyed by reality, receiving good news only to find out something tragic. Unfortunately this is entirely too common and Abrams does a great job of giving this reality a soundtrack. And as good as the album is as a whole, the one-two punch of “Mourning” and the closing title track edge just ahead with some of the finest work of the band’s short career. The former pairs Amster’s melancholic melodies with guest vocalist Phil Pendergast’s (Khemmis) powerful range. The latter blooms slowly like a flower in the morning sun and climaxes with some of the most beautiful interplay between Amster and Taylor Iverson’s low end frequencies while Geoffrey Cotton’s drum work ties it all together. Collectively the band is at their best here and, in turn, they drive their duality concept home triumphantly.
On Morning, Abrams have found a spot very high on the board of metal and rock. But furthermore, and most important, they’ve found their true direction which is where they should’ve been all along. The band has come a very long way in a short amount of time and whether they choose to stay the course or veer again on their next album, for now, Morning is a crowning achievement.