Minarchist – In Absence (Self-Released)Friday, 20th May 2016
Forward-thinking bands within the death metal realm such as Black Crown Initiate, Fallujah, and Rivers of Nihil have managed to make an impact quickly because of their focus on keeping the death metal brutality intact, while allowing atmosphere and emotion to seep into the cracks. It’s no surprise that this approach has become successful, and Minarchist seem destined to be one of the next big band to break through if In Absence reaches enough of that audience.
Main songwriter Connor McNamee (guitars/clean vocals) has assembled some very strong talent for this initial offering. First up is Nick Shaw (Black Crown Initiate) on bass, who also helped produce the album. Next up is Jerry Martin (Alustrium), who does his best scream/growl from beginning to end. Then there are two guest solos from Andy Thomas (Black Crown Initiate) and Ethan McKenna. But talent is nothing without impressive songwriting, and Minarchist delivers on this front. While playing into the BCI/Fallujah vibe, McNamee’s songwriting gives Minarchist more of an individual identity. “Our Rose Garden” has some Opethian progressive tendencies, which meshes nicely with the heavy death metal riffing (and Martin’s screams). “Threat of a Terrible Storm” opens with some excellent baritone cleans that have a graceful yet darkened feel. It’s a nice transition into heavier territory, filled with a number of memorable riffs and a great melodic solo. “Burn Down the Sky” pushes things into an almost djent feeling, with an emphasis on bouncy grooves, where “Abandon” has an almost jazzy feel to it in the softer moments. In short, there’s plenty of diversity as you move through the 45-minute release to keep your ears attentive and make you want to come back for more.
The balancing of the death metal riffing with more introspective moments is what should earn Minarchist their stripes as word gets around. Memorable songwriting on both ends, solid cleans and growls, and a strong sense of atmosphere make In Absence an impressive listening experience, particularly for a debut release. One can almost feel the buzz building on this one already (and rightfully so).