After six years and extensive touring, Abysmal Dawn return with another helping of technical death metal in the form of Phylogenesis, the fifth full-length by the Los Angeles-based band. The lineup has changed since their last album, Obsolescence, with James Coppolino stepping in for Scott Fuller behind the drums and Vito Petroni manning the axe in lieu of Andy Nelson, but Phylogenesis still retains the trademark characteristics of an Abysmal Dawn record. It’s a technically sophisticated album that is both forcefully brutal and melodically memorable.
After a brief intro on “Mundane Existence,” the group brings the album in with a burst of speed led by Coppolino’s blasting beats. The first minute of this song shows the band’s ability to change in a continuous, flowing manner. Each lick is played several times, but the speed pushes them to make changes that make these riffs seem short. There is an ebb and flow on this song between speed and mid-paced grooves that defines the album. Throughout the album there are places where there is a division between the speed of the guitars and the drums. While the drums are blasting the guitars are grooving, which keeps the flow but puts a mild sheen on their music. It’s really quite brilliant what they are doing.
While there are grooves to be found throughout the recording, “Hedonistic” is the track that this technique first becomes apparent. Not to say this track doesn’t dish the RPMs because it does, but the first part of the song and the last part have a catchy rumble. Again, the flow is interesting considering how the guitar remains the same for several measures in the beginning of the song while the drums pick up the pace and the kicks further add depth to the rhythm. “Coerced Evolution” has a machine gun approach to the grooves with interesting drum fills. “Soul-Sick Nation” recalls the opening track in its rumbling groove.
Going into their third decade of existence and having been on numerous tours, Abysmal Dawn have created their own musical identity. Most of Phylogenesis sounds original, but there are moments that bring to mind classic death metal. These moments are sparse enough for the band to maintain a sense of individuality, but at the same time the familiarity is welcomed. Vocalist/guitarist Charles Elliott fronted Death To All part of the time, so it only makes sense to hear them cover Death’s “Flattening of Emotions.” “Coerced Evolution” has a part reminiscent of Cannibal Corpse, which seems to come with about every death metal band. “Soul-Sick Nation” transitions from the groove mentioned above to something along the lines of Carcass.
While Phylogenesis shows Abysmal Dawn travelling a similar path stylistically as previous albums, there is a refinement beyond past efforts. Even though the band were busy touring and confronting other issues that pushed the record back, one can tell the amount of time it took to make this album played in their favor. Fans of the band and this style of death metal should enjoy Phylogenesis.
(released April 17, 2020 on Season Of Mist)
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Listen To Abysmal Dawn – “Hedonistic”