Chris Sessions’ take:
Better. SO much better. Aiden and Surrender of Divinity kind of took a little of my love for the job down the fucking toilet with the rest of the indigestible artificial additives I ate this past week. I was afraid of the trifecta: a cheesy power metal record to win this month’s triple crown of the oughtn’t-be-called-metal-in-the-first-place derby. So a decent slab of death metal, served up without bullshit is just what the doctor blah blah blah.
Now this is not HOLY SHIT material, but it’s certainly upholding the tradition of death metal AS death metal that keeps my pet niche from disappearing. It’s mid tempo with blasts only for accents, which reminds me favorably of the Demigod re-issue I just reviewed, but with a modern production job. It’s a clean-yet-dirty sound and very appealing. Everything has that great early nineties tone, but with all the modern conveniences, like a modern log house, but, you know, with blood and bile spilling through the cracks.
The musicianship is certainly above critique. Never showy but with plenty of fire, every player fits his performance into the song structures almost completely transparently. But when the moment demands it they step up without a problem. The vocalist roars and screams in a manner not unlike Corspegrinder from CC. And although it sometimes feels a little pedestrian, more often than not the band’s skill and excitement is infectious.
If there is a complaint to be leveled at this disc, it lies in that pedestrianism. This is another death metal record. I won’t go into my personal weakness for this genre, but I have to admit this disc is not exactly setting new standards. You know I don’t care, but the average metalhead may not share my addiction.
Bottom line: I like this CD a fucking awful lot. It’s fantastic death metal. It’s not going to topple Decapitated, Benighted or the new Cannibal Corpse from my tentative year ender, but it’s definitely tracking close. Especially those everyday headbangers looking for some non-techy, non brutal death, this is your ticket. And for my fellow DMers, pick this up. You will be glad you did.
Jeremy Garner’s take:
Considering this Los Angeles based band has only been around since 2003 and only have one three song demo under their belts, it’s pretty fucking impressive to see them literally explode onto the scene with such a strong release. Basically, Abysmal Dawn have set out to play modern death metal that combines the Scandinavian melody with the destruction of American death metal. Let me frame it this way, From Ashes is the tour de force statement that for all practical purposes the Miasma, The Black Dahlia Murder’s latest train wreck of over commercialized death metal made for the hardcore kids, wished it could be
The engineering, courtesy of John Haddad (Eyes of Fire, Phobia) gives the production a well-deserved amount of clear and distinctive biting crunch yet a slight shroud of darkness. The absolutely tremendous sound of the guitars explodes out of the speakers in a flurry of rage and violence. Though the vocals are further back in the mix and rather buried behind the monstrous guitar tone, they’re actually quite different for the style. Charles Elliot gracefully swaps between styles consisting of thick death metal lows and black metal snarls creating a multi-dimensioned layer rife with interesting variety of musical texture
What really separates Abysmal Dawn from the rest of the herd is their eclectic blend of extreme metal that even manages to incorporate slight Swedish and Norwegian black metal styling from time to time. Though plenty of comparisons are to be made to At the Gates considering their implementation of Gothenburg slice ‘n dice in frequent instances, especially “The Hand of Death” and “Blacken the Sky”, it’s refreshing to note that From Ashes doesn’t descend into yet another dull ass effort of all out pathetic Gothenburg worship towards Dark Tranquillity et al in a pointless recap of better bands.
There’s no denying that guitarists Jamie Boulanger and Charles Elliott are damn well talented. Not meaning to scoff at Terry Barajas to blend all this seamlessly together, but it’s the guitarwork that makes the album what it is. Not only are they well versed in their traditional death metal courtesy of Carcass and Death exhibited through the opening barrage of “Servants to Their Knees” lashing out expertly, but From Ashes has a host of influences including their simply astounding acrobatic Floridian death (i.e. Monstrosity or Malevolent Creation). These moments are categorized by bounding from acrobatic, melodic solos to the occasional vitriolic rhythms. A prime example is “Crown Desire” which juxtaposes the two elements perfectly with the unabashed thrash death of “Salting the Earth”. All the while, numbers like “Blacken the Sky” and “State of Mind” reveal their affinity for New York death metal with the use of abrupt rhythm sections and punchy palm mutes ala Suffocation; songs like “Solitudes Demise” brings their blend of Scandinavian melody to the forefront. Abysmal Dawn’s eclectic blend of well-executed death metal really separates them as wolves amongst sheep in a genre plagued by low talent and even lower originality.
Say what you will about the current trend of American metal and the wave of NWSDM going the way it is, but Abysmal Dawn absolutely slaughters pop metalcore sensations like Phoenix Mourning, Beyond the Embrace, The Agony Scene, The Absence, and The Black Dahlia Murder. Realistically, there’s nothing on From Ashes that hasn’t already had a good once over by other bands, nor is Abysmal Dawn an original band by any stretch of the imagination, but because of how well their influences coalesce and their knack for writing a damn good song, Abysmal Dawn is by far above average. I’ll be honest, I normally can’t stomach the style for more than a song or two but these guys have been able to produce an album that is able to not only keep me interested, but impress me by taking a step forward yet never severing ties with traditionalism.