The Absence – A Gift for the Obsessed (M-Theory Audio)

Thursday, 22nd March 2018
Rating: 8.5/10

It’s been a while since we’ve heard from the Floridian melodeath champs of The Absence. They’ve brought out a single or two here and there, but they’ve largely been out of the loop since 2011’s Enemy Unbound. But over the course of seven years, they’ve managed to acquire a new label, find a new guitar team in Joey Concepcion and Taylor Nordberg, and produce a new album – of which many die-hard fans will likely label “a gift” indeed.

Regardless of line-up changes, The Absence has largely walked the same pathway since their inception. That being one of thrashy, European-styled melodic death metal with plenty of aggression and catchy hooks. The Absence circa 2018 picks up right where they left off, and harkens this scribe back to the exceptional Riders of the Plague, where they masterfully captured cerebral and visceral riffs alongside a plethora of catchy melodies that bore their way into your skull. A Gift for the Obsessed similarly nails the essence of the Gothenburg-esque approach to melodic death metal with plenty of snarling American aggression and thrash. It’s a tough call to truly snag one track that stands out when they are all vying for your attention. Simply pick a track and you can find something that will catch your fancy. From the soaring melodic opening of “The Forging” to the galloping thrashy aggression of “Celestial Hysteria” to frenetic and tasteful soloing within “Fear of Existence,” there’s a lot to enjoy. There’s even a fun cover of Suicidal Tendencies’ “You Can’t Bring Me Down,” which features a guest appearance from Bjorn Strid of Soilwork and captures the song while adding some of The Absence’s flavor to it.

A Gift for the Obsessed is an excellent reminder of the strengths of the melodic death metal glory days without feeling too far stuck in the past. There’s lavish solos, powerful and addictive melodies, punchy riffs, and howling screams from start to finish. Everything you could possibly need from this style is here and in fantastic form. The Absence are back!

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