Abeyance – Portraits of Mankind (Sliptrick Records)

Wednesday, 27th November 2019
Rating: 8.5/10

An Italian project started in 2016, Abeyance are aiming to blend old school melodic death metal with strong Swedish influences on their debut EP Portraits of Mankind. Carefully crafting this material over a two year period, the band use introspective lyrics and well-thought out musical compositions to create a final product that can capture audiences craving new material from younger bands but also develop similarities that drove the movement into the hearts of many metalheads decades ago. Remembering the standout guitar melodies, stronger hook/groove aspects, and savage riffs/vocals that are mandatory for the best in the genre – the quintet boil down their output to those key ingredients and keep the focus where it should be to deliver an entertaining first outing.

Four of the five songs venture over the 5:30 mark – the longest “Secretly I Joined Dark Horizons” ending the EP at 6:31, but the band smartly open the record with the blistering title track that is radio-friendly at 3:31. Guitar hooks and double kick mechanics push forth without any extraneous setups, as vocalist Jacopo Marinelli roars through his lyrics like a man possessed and lead guitarist Gianluca Fraschini drops in those key memorable melodic / shred accents against the churning main riffs that drive your headspace back to early In Flames and Dark Tranquillity. The rhythm section is willing to throw down some speedier, semi-blast beat movements at times to break away from the mid-tempo chugging and heads down groove passages – check out “In Falsehood Dominion” for some beautiful transitions, including a relatively calm/sparse mid-section which includes some tranquil keyboards and progressive bass/guitar interplay. The twin guitar foundation Fraschini and Andrea Mantelli use as fuel for diverse dynamic tools to get the listener to hang on the edge for the next segment or tempo shift/ transition – thunderous riffing and super catchy melodic runs the order of the day on the highlight of the EP “Mine Are Sorrow and Redemption”, an effort where specific gallops and atmospheric shifts are classic Scandinavian trademarks (think Mors Principium Est or Omnium Gatherum).

In an age where many Italian death metal acts are going for more of the cinematic/symphonic landscape a la Fleshgod Apocalypse, it’s great to hear Abeyance delivering old school melodic death metal with the right intentions and execution. Portraits of Mankind sets the stage for a future full-length that could be equally as pleasing if these musicians continue to apply knowledge, wisdom, and insight into their craft.

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