Album Review: Abiotic – “Casuistry”

(Metal Blade Records)

It’s a rare sight to watch a promising metal band make good on that promise. It’s an even rarer feat to hear one take leaps and bounds so early. Florida’s latest youthful metal export, Abiotic is a great example of such a band. The group’s sophomore album is light years ahead of debut Symbiosis. The debut showcased an immensely talented group of musicians, but riffs were too fleeting and breakdowns were all too common. There were certainly flashes of greatness, but the result was a deathcore band who clearly listened to a lot of The Black Dahlia Murder and The Faceless (who can blame them?). If Symbiosis‘ success is because it was attached to its influences (see what I did there…?), then Casuistry‘s success is in large part because Abiotic has been given some much needed life (sorry). This album was produced by the inimitable Jamie King, and the result is a rather organic listen (can’t stop). The resulting clarity and weight gives Casuistry a great lens with which to view this rising talent in the tech/prog death circle.

In many ways, you could make the comparison between Abiotic’s transition to greatness to what Job for a Cowboy did last year. They were both clearly impressive musicians before, but with an added layer of organic prog and with a heightened songwriting focus, both bands ended up transcending their assumed trajectories. While JFAC went a tad more esoteric, Abiotic’s success is in part because it embraced its inner desire to find the perfect balance between technical skill and memorable songwriting. Casuistry is sneakily progressive, taking to the sky a space odyssey in between hyper-shredding, or breaking out into a metallic maelstrom. Abiotic has found a great understanding of what works and doesn’t work in technical death metal in 2015. This doesn’t wank for the sake of wankery; “The Absence of Purity” feels more like a fire cracker than a showy grand finale, which is what makes that crafty guest solo from Between the Buried and Me’s Paul Waggoner stand out even more. In many ways, you could argue the band is just taking a more organic style of The Faceless worship to the next level, but Abiotic is able to craft solid enough songs that you don’t mind the comparison.

Unfortunately, the band falters in two somewhat predictable ways. First, it hasn’t left it’s deathcore past entirely behind, as there are a fair share of chugs strewn about here, most notably on the otherwise devastating “Reanimated Destruction”. For the most part, the breakdowns are executed well enough, but it’s difficult not to notice them when the rest of the record is littered with visceral riffs and jaw-dropping lead/solo work. On that note, the other issue is sometimes the band extends its reach a tad too far. Sometimes those progressive flourishes will hinder a song’s momentum or break a riff in half. Thankfully, neither of these complaints come up often enough to hinder what is otherwise a surprisingly impressive leap from these Floridians. Abiotic has taken a big leap with album number two, and fans of prog/tech death should pay attention. (Nicholas Senior)

Purchase Casuistry here.

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