ABYSMAL DAWN – Phylogenesis

ABYSMAL DAWN – Phylogenesis

The Californian death metal ensemble Abysmal Dawn had once shown a promise with their debut album "From Ashes" (2006), after the 2004 demo, but I was disappointed with the follow-up "Programmed To Consume" (2008) subsequently ignoring both "Leveling The Plane Of Existence" (2011) and "Obsolescence" (2014). In fact, I probably would have ignored "Phylogenesis", too, were it not for the chief editor Andrea Chirulescu who reminded me of their existence with the download alert. Was it worth it?

Well, you already know it was from the score but, even though it does carry some of the problems the 2nd album did, "Phylogenesis" is actually a very good album, surprisingly so, since I was prepared to hate it. While it takes some time to get to the good "meat" of the bone, already the panzer Slayer-ic "Hedonistic" signals that we’re in for a good meal, which the progressive "Human" Death/"Kingdom Of Conspiracy" Immolation "Coerced Evolution" confirms and the groovy Lamb Of God-tinged "Soul-Sick Nation" reconfirms, but it is the closer (if you don’t count Death’s "Flattening Of Emotions" cover) "The Lament Configuration" where Charles Elliott (vocals, guitars, samples), Vito Petroni Guitars (lead guitars), Eliseo Garcia (bass, additional vocals) and James Coppolino (drums) really spread their creative wings, combining the deathly Testament’s "The Burning Times" and the hardcore-ish Diecast’s "Day Of Reckoning" stylings with classic Obituary, for hands down the best track on the album, and it is at this point where it hits me that Elliott’s growls sound like Opeth’s Lars Mikael Åkerfeldt’s, but that’s all right since the latter no longer uses them.

That "Phylogenesis" is far from perfect is evident right from the opening melody-less standard death metal operating procedure that is "Mundane Existence" (irony!) and, while the subsequent "The Path Of The Totalitarian", with its genuine attempt at melody and variety not a complete failure, both the Hate Eternal-ly "A Speck In The Fabric Of Eternity" and the fast Slayer-ish "True To The Blind" which make it seem as if Abysmal Dawn was holding back, which may be true since they save the best for later. But it is the aforementioned cover of Death’s "Flattening Of Emotions" which reveals the problem. What made "Human" album, from which the original comes from, so great, was when Death was extreme and brutal they were uncompromisingly extreme and brutal but when Death hit a hook or a melody it would get almost classic heavy metal a’la Iron Maiden (hence my theory that Charles Michael "Chuck" Schuldiner invented melodeath) so the harmonies would sound so sweet while making the extreme parts seem even more brutal. What Schuldiner never did on any of his albums is brutalize the melodic part so as to make it barely audible. But that is exactly what Abysmal Dawn did on this Death’s cover as well as on the tracks mentioned in this paragraph, something they interestingly did not do on the tracks mentioned in the previous paragraph. This is the most important reason why the score is what it is.

Overall, I am glad I chose to review "Phylogenesis", because, even though it has much of the same problem I saw in Abysmal Dawn from the start, it is clear the band is already transcending their limitations and I am sure the next album will have a much needed proper balance.