Absent No Longer
The Absence return after what seems like far longer than the 3 years it’s been since Riders Of The Plague, their 2nd album, pushed them to the forefront of the melodic death/thrash/music picture, establishing themselves as the smart alternative to the Arch Enemies of this world and becoming firm Leave the Hall favourites in the process. Naturally the question must be asked; after such a hotly anticipated build-up, will they choke like Michael Hutchence or gloriously unleash a pent up torrent of creamy metal musical ejaculate into our lives?
One thing is clear from the get-go on Enemy Unbound – Peter Joseph and Patrick Pintavalle can still play the guitar like men who have sold a ball to Satan, continuing and developing the fine axemanship that characterized From Your Grave and Riders…. These musical credentials are all over the delicate and overwhelmingly melodic Vertigo, which instrumentally welcomes us to the album and is swiftly followed by the reassuringly thrashy Erased, a song about Total Recall that is so awesome it will have Arnocorps sobbing into their steroids.
Deepest Wound features harmonies lusher than the pubes of a goddess and smatterings of solo spots that are at times reminiscent of Scar Symmetry’s space-age super-noodling, while Maelstrom and the mighty title track reach out and touch modern thrash perfection, every nuance of the onslaught being picked out and carefully polished to a glowing commercial sheen by the production (handled by the guitarists themselves) and Jonas Kjellgren’s excellent mix, giving you a boner that’ll have you bent double for a fortnight.
It’s literally impossible to keep this relentless pace up, however, as the listener would be so overwhelmed by the genius that their soul would prolapse and, inevitably, following 2nd instrumental Solace, the album does slip slightly into Absence-by-numbers in its second half. We’re presented with tracks that would have been strong standouts if featured on their first two releases, but are found slightly wanting when compared to the minge-blisteringly sexual opening tracks. That said, the slow-burning Wartorn and Hidden in White are not without high merit, both featuring yet more guitar majesty but giving the listener enough space to breathe and soak in Jamie Stewart’s brutal yet crystal clear vocals, which go a long way to keeping this album firmly anchored in the ‘hairy man metal’ category that we love so dearly and well clear of any shadow of poserdom that the huge melodies might threaten to cast.
This is an album that, while not quite fulfilling their vast potential, comes a ball hair’s width away and continues the Absence’s journey towards inevitable world domination. This is something I am convinced will happen for them just as soon as the ignoramuses that constitute 96% of the metal-buying public stop felching the nu-metal dangleberries out of Disturbed’s sweaty arse crack and realise that this is what modern metal should be – a rock-solid thrash foundation, death growls, melodies and enough guitar pyrotechnics on tap that, should the need arise, they can be used as some sort of musical Death Star. Next time they will release their definitive, no-holds-barred masterpiece and your face will be Alderaan.