Black Absence – Beyond the Light (Self-Released)

Thursday, 19th July 2018
Rating: 8/10

A healthy part of the active western MA heavy music scene, Black Absence have been making steady progress in developing their own style of melodic, modern/groove-oriented thrash based on their two previous releases Call of the Void (2013) and Voyager:Record (2016). This scribe has watched the band get stronger through live seasoning, hoping to reach a new level of appreciation on this latest EP Beyond the Light. What’s immediately noticeable is the attention to proper punchy tones and cohesive production techniques that elevate the overall aural excitement that these songs bring to the table – making for an easier product to continually listen to again and again.

Certain riff segments of course have obvious launching pads – the opening guitar sequence against the gun fire for “Racket” has a glancing similarity to the opening triad for “The Haunting” of Testament – but the band choose to bulk things up with a more maniacal vocal presentation and enhance the proceedings with multiple twin harmony twists that Iron Maiden or Thin Lizzy followers champion. As guitarists Sean Cahillane and Kevin Sanders fill these songs with interesting rhythms, building anticipation for the next part – “The Nothing” transforming from a serene, clean opening with a bluesy lead into galloping riffs and harmony support, before a slamming groove section amps up the aggression factor. Beyond the fact that bassist Johnathan Denaker gets the chance to be in the spotlight a couple of times in this track, a la D.D. Verni or the much-missed Cliff Burton to prove that bottom end support does compliment the best metal recordings. Black Absence rarely stay stagnant on one favored tempo template or rigid part to part construction for their songs – which makes listening to the thunderous opener “Crownfall” as intriguing as the more brooding closer “Exodus”, the latter a personal favorite because of its occasional melodic death nuances against Liam Malone’s straightforward drumming and the varied talk/screaming delivery from singer Mike Lalonde.

Black Absence are a band that appreciates Lamb of God just as much as say Testament, Slayer and Metallica just like Disturbed – ensuring a proper foothold in the past and present when it comes to their brand of metal. Beyond the Light is the most cohesive product for the quintet to date, determined to only get even stronger as time passes by.

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