28th July 2017 - Prosthetic Records
02. Heretic Sacrifice
03. Votive Offerings
04. Granted Indulgence
05. Black Candle
07. A Glass Coffin Burial
08. A Scythe In The Dark
10. The Pardoner
London based death metal band Abhorrent Decimation impressed with their debut album Miasmic Mutation back in 2015—a time when we thought the UK would be part of the European Union forever! My how the world can change in a couple short years.
Not Abhorrent Decimation, though! Their sophomore album The Pardoner is largely what one would expect from Abhorrent Decimation if already familiar with their previous material. The band seem more comfortable playing with dynamics this time around and frequently make tasteful use of atmospheric passages featuring piano and strings throughout the album. This is evident from the very opening on “Soothsayer” – a rare intro track that not only refrains from being a throwaway, but is instead an actively engaging song that sets the mood for what follows. While it would be interesting to see what Abhorrent Decimation could do with attempting to integrate strings and piano more fully à la Fleshgod Apocalypse, it never feels disjointed.
The songs typically flow well into one another, with outros usually leading directly into the next track. This is, however, a double-edged sword (we need an expression that conveys the same meaning of being simultaneously a benefit and a drawback because having two edges sounds beneficial, but I digress) since it aids The Pardoner in sounding thematically unified, but also means that the songs can bleed together. The riffs come fast and are reminiscent at times of The Black Dahlia Muder‘s distinctive high BPM tremolo picking. Nowhere is this more apparent than on the mid-album standout “A Glass Coffin Burial“, which is a hair under 4 minutes and not a second is wasted. It’s here that Abhorrent Decimation’s potential is best manifested; the drumming is as frenetic as any tech death that’s come out in 2017, and each performance is actively impressive.
One significant aspect that is frustrating is how generally unintelligible the lyrics are. Typically death metal bands are not exactly celebrated for their lyrics, but Abhorrent Decimation has provocative and poetic lyrics that are lost in the shuffle because of the delivery. Vocalist Ashley Scott has a potent growl but it is unfortunately monotonous and there is not much, if any, deviation from the sole technique he has mastered beyond frequently adding layers for emphasis. Thankfully the band have released a lyric video for the song “Granted Indulgence“, which is a useful aid in appreciating their message, but without that it would be nigh impossible to reveal. It would be great if the remainder of The Pardoner received a similar treatment.
Penultimate track “The Host” is a brief, tasteful, and technical instrumental that serves as an effective lead into the nearly 10-minute title track, which is a fantastic choice to end the album on. The riffing is more melodious and memorable than the majority of the rest of the album and it includes nice guitar lines that evoke a melancholic ambience to the aggression. The latter half of “The Pardoner” is an understated piano and string arrangement that flows naturally into the album’s beginning and brings the entire affair full circle.
There is a lot to like about The Pardoner and frankly about Abhorrent Decimation as well. It’s a solidly performed 50 minutes of death metal that is free from lapses in creative judgment or errors in technical execution. Despite its competence, The Pardoner does not do anything that devoted death metal fans have not heard done before, but Abhorrent Decimation are unquestionably worth investigating for fans of the genre and it ought to be worthwhile seeing where they decide to go from here. A little more originality could go a long way.