Just going to come right out and say it. Abhorrent gets a solid “A” for effort AND execution on the The Pardoner, because it takes vision and planning to pull off a concept record, especially in the realm of death metal. The scope and difficulty level that “The Pardoner” functions at is high and never falters. When it’s all said and done, the boys did it. They pulled it off.
Abhorrent Decimation was faced with three key challenges with this album: Constructing the perfect soundtrack that would tell the story of “The Pardoner,” i.e., the music; writing lyrics that would serve each individual song, and lastly, the continuity factor; how well the record would flow from song to song, beginning to end. Constructing a concept record on this scale is hard to do because if you’re off in even one area, you risk jeopardizing the entire project. Abhorrent Decimation, though, reigned it in and turned out a gem of a record, ten songs, all inspired by a villainous figure that English poet Geoffrey Chaucer wrote about in The Canterbury Tales nicknamed, “The Pardoner.”
“The Pardoner” is a con man who hides behind the veil of religion, preaching righteousness and purity, a wolf in sheep’s clothing if you will, who in reality, is anything but pure and free of sin. He was the original “snake oil salesman” selling faked, “official” church pardons that claimed absolution of sin as well as cheap trinkets, charms and crystals that would restore purity and favor in the eyes of the lord. The Pardoner tells a harrowing tale of three men whose materialism ultimately becomes their death.
Vocalist Ashley Scott had this to say regarding the lyrical content of the record: “Lyrically, the album opens with a scene setter. ‘Pardoners’ would often operate with a partner called a ‘Soothsayer’. A ‘Soothsayer’ would visit a town prior to ‘The Pardoner’s’ arrival. It was his job to stir locals up regarding their sins and the repercussions thereof. He would advise people that if they could find a ‘Pardoner’, they should do so and atone for their sins by buying a pardon or indulgence.
Tracks 2 to 7 are the story ‘The Pardoner’ tells of the three men, avarice and Death. In many places throughout tracks 2 to 7, I actually use Middle English turn of phrase. In some places, I have used my own interpretation and translations of Chaucer’s work and in other places; I introduced some of my own narrative and details. The idea was to create an obvious storytelling feel to this section, with word play and rhyme playing a major role in what I did, as I wanted to ring as true to the original as possible. Track 8 is my own conclusion of the inexorable nature of death and greed. Track 9 is an instrumental and then the record closes with Track 10, The Pardoner. A sort of self damning, confessionary monologue.”
As you might expect, there is a slight, gothic vibe that flows through each song creating a strong Victorian visual that only serves to enhance and add to the heaviness of the music itself. Abhorrent Decimation do an amazing job bringing this story to life. The lyrics and music are top notch; heavy, harsh and unflinching. Great record, give it a listen.