When ABHORRENT DECIMATION released their debut, Miasmic Mutation, in 2015 they set the British death metal scene somewhat of a flutter, which would cross seas and start a buzz in the US gaining traction with both death metal purists and deathcore worshippers. After the debut’s warm reception their second effort The Pardoner surpasses high expectations and carries on into uncharted waters.
It’s understandable why ABHORRENT DECIMATION appealed to both death and ‘core audiences with Miasmic Mutation. Their fret-polishing guitars pleased those who love both technical shredding whilst their groove satisfied and opened up listeners who only care for a breakdown. In a similar way to a band like JOB FOR A COWBOY or modern day WHITECHAPEL, they’re an excellent bridging act between the two sub-genres. The Pardoner, however, feels distanced from the deathcore side, not that the bridge is burned per say, but more that one of the entrances has narrowed.
The 50-minute sophomore album may slightly close a door for one set of fans but it opens doors to many new ones, what The Pardoner loses in accessibility it makes up for with creativity and intrigue. Whilst it’s still a modern death metal record at heart with it’s roaring vocals and unrelenting speed, there’s a focus on the atmosphere around the medieval tale it tells. Not by adding any cheesy soundbites or daft narration mind you, but by creating a dark tone, like with the long instrumental section of Volatile Offerings which then jumps into one last quick minute of chaos before resuming its eerie reverse sounding guitar effects.
Almost in a way to test you, the album reaches it’s greatest moments within the latter half. Tracks like Conspire build to monolithic soundscapes of brutality by the guitars taking it down to a less rapid pace whilst the drums still rumble on. The multi layering of Ross McLennan and Will Cooke’s guitars towards the end of this track are a joy to listen to as one layer follows the rhythm, another is creating a daunting buzz saw effect, and then another layer joins the fray to add some broken up leads which the other guitars then follow. It’s a segment of music that you can constantly stick on repeat and digest. If THY ART IS MURDER’s more ‘epic’ moments satisfy you but you crave further finesse and substance to explore then a lot of moments on this album are made for your indulgence.
These stunning instrumentals combined with a killer production job make every element sound as imposing as possible. A Scythe In The Dark has a dual vocal track harmonising both ends of Ashley Scott’s vocal spectrum. Whilst he’s singing about a Geoffrey Chaucer novel, he sounds as otherworldly as a H.P Lovecraft monster.
To say that The Pardoner is ambitious feels like a slight understatement. To put it crassly it’s ABHORRENT DECIMATION laying their balls on the kitchen table. It’s a statement showing that they’re far more than a flash in the pan. Instead, they’re a band with barrels full of creativity with the ability to shape a world and story within this record. In years to come, we could be talking about how The Pardoner was merely the start of ABHORRENT DECIMATION taking their true form.
The Pardoner is set for release on July 28th via Prosthetic Records.
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