Abiotic – Casuistry (Metal Blade)Thursday, 16th April 2015
Rewinding back to 2012, Abiotic was catching quite a bit of buzz for their debut, Symbiosis. A blend of technical death metal with some traces of deathcore, it was clear that the band was on to something but weren’t quite there yet. Since then, the band has run into some member difficulties, but the new blood has done some strengthening in some regards. Casuistry is a major step-up for the band and is sure to make any doubters stand up and take notice.
With a definite focus on songwriting dynamics, Casuistry flows significantly better than many “tech death” bands latest attempts. The songs never lose their feral intensity, which opener “Believe the Unseen” quickly shows. A real firecracker of an opening, but there are some things you can pick up on that will continue to find their way back throughout the album. The first thing is that while the technical playing has increased, there’s just as much of a push for atmosphere. There’s some airy, almost jazzy riffing later on, and Jamie King’s stellar production includes that of a rumbling bass that’s happy to be more than just a clone of the guitars. The second piece is that of breakdowns. Yes, breakdowns. The band uses them sparingly, but look out when they finally surface. “Believe the Unseen” has some of the strongest ones in recent memory. And because they are used only when necessary, they keep a punishing bite that many bands are lately avoiding due to their stigma.
A strong opener doesn’t matter if the rest of the tracks don’t follow suit. But the momentum of “Believe the Unseen” continues to spread through the remainder of Casuistry. There’s the spiraling riffs of “Violent Scriptures,” the sheer malevolence of “Falling into Obscurity,” the eerie atmosphere of “Cast into the Depths,” and the punishing finale of “Drain. Deface. Abolish.” It’s also worth noting that new vocalist Travis Bartosek has a great range that keeps things brutal yet rather enunciated, giving the songs a visceral power.
There’s nothing on Symbiosis that isn’t one-upped by what you hear on Casuistry. The band has clearly spent some time with this record and it shows. A technical death metal release that is as memorable as it is frantic, Casuistry hits all the high water marks.