Abhorrent Decimation – The Pardoner (Prosthetic)

Thursday, 20th July 2017
Rating: 8.5/10

Already building some buzz after a strong debut in Miasmic Mutation, Abhorrent Decimation then signed with Prosthetic Records to continue moving forward with their brand of modern death metal. For their second release, the band shows no signs of slowing down, taking a high-concept idea of the character of The Pardoner from Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales and turning it into a death metal journey.

For starters, everything that worked in Miasmic Mutation has been enhanced with new ideas added within. The band’s bludgeoning grooves and abrasive approach is still completely intact and they can hit incredibly hard when the time is right (see “Granted Indulgence”). But the album is more than a simple beatdown, and there’s plenty of nuance to give it the needed wings to soar. The concept is thoroughly integrated into the sound, beyond the excellent storytelling (worth an investigation on its own if you are familiar with the source material) and into the music itself, which casts a dark and menacing tone to accompany the depravity of the title character. Added components such as orchestrations and synths help to further enhance the concept feeling. The band also seems more comfortable this time around in adding more progressive leanings into the music, and for a death metal album that stands at a firm 50-minutes, these melodic entries help keep the album buoyant. “Votive Offerings” and the title track work quite well in this area, with some catchy melodies (still retaining a sinister tone) providing a sense of balance to counteract more savage moments.

No sign of a sophomore slump in the case of The Pardoner. Instead, the band rises to the occasion with help from a steadfast concept that grimly blossoms with malevolence (and a hint of wonder). Those not concerned with the concept should still get plenty from the proceedings, but there’s a lot to enjoy and dissect for those who want their death metal served up with rich source material and intelligence.

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