Monday, 5 March 2012

CD Review: Enemy Unbound, by The Absence (2010)

The Absence, from Tampa, Florida, may be the closest an American band has come to perfecting melodic death metal, with dashes of thrash sprinkled for flavour. Enemy Unbound, their third studio album, has an impressively consistent level of high quality, thoughtful metal.

With a style reminiscent of early Kalmah or Arch Enemy at their melodic best, The Absence make the most  of a signature sound featuring continuously busy lead guitar work against a background of a brawny but meticulously constructed wall of sound. Strong melodies are always to the fore, The Absence communicating in tidy, astute and coherent sentences. The solos may lack a magical edge, but this is a band that celebrates the collective rather than individual talent.

On the best tracks of Enemy Unbound, The Absence start a fire and take off in a blaze of high tempo, glistening metal. Erased sets a manic yet controlled speed, the lead guitar work unleashed into infectious hyperactivity that is sustained throughout the album, Jamie Stewart's harsh vocals a low key growl. Deepest Wound showcases impressive staccato riffing on an eloquent melody. Title track Enemy Unbound is an incessant journey into mystical strumming, guitarists Patrick Pintavalle and Peter Joseph finding magical tones and outlandish control to pull off numerous rapid stops and starts. The Bridge is among the beefiest track on the CD, a tyrant of power with a dangerous eastern tinge.

A bonus twelfth track, titled Merciless 3, is a phantasmagorical trip to ghost territory, playing with a spooky melody and inviting lost goblins and shifty spirits to the dance.

Enemy Unbound is an absorbing experience, The Absence elevating themselves to the front ranks of bands toiling at the crackling end of inventive metal.


Jamie Stewart - Vocals
Michael Leon - Bass
Patrick Pintavalle - Guitars
Peter Joseph - Guitars
Justin Reynolds - Drums

Songlist (ratings out of 10):

1. Vertigo - n/a (short instrumental)
2. Erased - 10
3. Deepest Wound - 9
4. Maelstrom - 8
5. Enemy Unbound - 10 *see below*
6. Solace - 8
7. The Bridge - 10
8. Wartorn - 8
9. Hidden In White - 8
10. Vengeance And Victory - 8
11. Triumph - 7
12. Merciless 3 (bonus track) - 9

Average: 8.64

Produced by Patrick Pintavalle and Peter Joseph.
Mixed and Mastered by Jonas Kjellgren. Engineered by Brian Elliot.

All Ace Black Blog Heavy Metal CD Reviews are here.

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