THE ABSENCE, hailing from Florida, were a Melodic Death Metal force to be reckoned with. They put out three widely acclaimed albums for Metal Blade Records, with the last one, Enemy Unbound, coming in 2010. And then…poof, they were gone. Now bear in mind, the band wasn’t officially broken up or anything, but a lot of stuff happened in life, so they were merely put on hold…until now. Singer Jamie Stewart, drummer Jeramie Kling and bassist Mike Leon, along with the addition of celebrated guitar duo Joey Concepcion (ARMAGEDDON) and Taylor Nordberg (SOILWORK, RIBSPREADER) have regrouped and given us their newest offering in A Gift For the Obsessed (out now, M-Theory Audio).
So, after an eight year hiatus how is it? Glad you asked. It’s fucking great!! Sweet Melodeath that grabs you by the throat and refuses to let go, that’s what we’re dealing with here. As soon as the title track kicks in you’ll see that, trust me. “The Forging” is basically Riff City, U.S.A., and both Concepcion and Nordberg rip it up throughout. One of my immediate standouts was/is “Misery Trophies,” that’s for sure. Stewart’s sharp-tongued vocal, the dual harmonized guitar work, plus Kling’s controlled chaos behind the kit, coupled with Leon’s heavy bottom end make for one helluva track that definitely warrants repeat listens.
“Thought & Memory” is another powerhouse tune that will wreck some necks, no question. But it also has such a cool melody that it’s hard not to get caught up in that particular aspect, the heaviness aside. “Celestial Hysteria”, “Septic Testament”, and “The Alpha Illusion” all find the whole band just going to town, and each one of them has something different to offer. But they all share that common ground of being absolute neckbreakers. Oh, and the guitar solo for “The Alpha Illusion” is pure GOLD! “Fear of Existence” has a very TESTAMENT-like vibe, complete with cymbal chokes, so that one immediately had my attention, right?
Now, when it comes to “You Can’t Bring Me Down,” we are treated to some gorgeous guitar intros before Stewart yells, “WHAT THE FUCK’S GOIN’ ON HERE?!!?” and then we’re off to the races. Closer “Idle Thrones” showcases a heavy yet complex melody throughout, and is another excellent track on a record full of them. Well, let me just say this…after eight long years it is very, very good to have THE ABSENCE back in action. A Gift For the Obsessed is a fucking banger and rager of an album, and one the band should be proud of. Whether you’re a longtime fan or a newer one, this record will not disappoint you in the slightest. So go git it!!
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Misery Trophies”, The Alpha Illusion”, “Fear of Existence”, “Thought & Memory”, “The Forging”