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Abysmal Dawn: Leveling The Plane of Existence

Something needs to be said about the general quality of bands on the Relapse Records roster, over the past decade. The Pennsylvania, USA based record label has played an instrumental role in promoting young, talented bands with a flair for balancing a cutting-edge approach with a commercially viable sound. Hailing from California, Abysmal Dawn perfectly embody this template has seen a sharp rise in popularity over the past two years, with their highly proficient style of that elegantly straddles the modern and old-school death metal worlds. Their third album within the span of five years, Leveling The Plane of Existence bursts with tasteful, varied riffing and dynamic songwriting delivered with a professional execution, that culminates in a highly listenable, yet powerful record.

While it would be inaccurate to say that Abysmal Dawn stick to a particular tried and tested formula through the album, Leveling The Plane of Existence generally deviates towards a healthy blend of technical riffing with more conventional tonalities that for most part has a very audible Floridan base, sewn together with a tight, cohesive songwriting approach that leaves no fat untrimmed. The arrangements are streamlined and focused, never wasting a second in self-indulgent noodling or needless repetition, in an endeavour to restrict the tracks to tight durations. There's a variety of pacing to be found on the album, with the blistering opener 'Pixilated Ignorance' bursting out with vicious intensity, while tracks like 'Perpetual Dormancy', with its early Suffocation influences, explore heavier, more doom influenced tempos and sounds. Admirably, the band seems entirely comfortable within its own skin, and stays far from pointless gimmickry or technical oneupmanship. The obvious flipside to this, however, is that even through all the varied pacing, there remains the occasional nagging feeling that little on Leveling The Plane of Existence is particularly fresh, or particularly original, suggesting that the band seems to have found a general safety zone for themselves, and are unwilling to take any major risks in the songwriting department.

That said, there are a few surprises on the album, like the exotic, Eastern overtones on 'My Own Saviour' and clean guitars and melodic atmospherics on the churning, lumbering closer 'The Sleeper Awakens', featuring a brilliant, epic guitar solo that stands out as among the more memorable moments on the album. The individual performances are precise and well-delivered, although Charles Elliott's vocal delivery falls short of being anything noteworthy, settling instead with a functional but lackluster style. A unique aspect of Leveling The Plane of Existence is its relatively old-school production, that impresses with a clear and full resonance while retaining a fantastic standard of grit and dirt, salvaging the album from the overproduced, sterile and neutered sound that seems to be the rising trend in modern metal. The guitars seethe with a thick, hefty crunch that do justice to the abundance of chug and meaty riffing on the album, while the drums sound suitably powerful, sonorous and organic.

While it has to be acknowledged aren't accomplishing anything strikingly original on Leveling The Plane of Existence, the finesse in execution and the mature, self-assured songwriting and refreshingly restrained arrangements largely make up for this shortfall, culminating in a solid, well-rounded and consistent album from a young band that only needs several tweaks and refinements to its formula before it establishes itself as a competent big league player.

Track list:
1. The Age of Ruin
2. Pixilated Ignorance
3. In Service of Time
4. Rapture Renowned
5. Our Primitive Nature
6. Perpetual Dormancy
7. Leveling The Plane of Existence
8. Manufactured Humanity
9. My Own Savior
10. The Sleeper Awakens

Added: April 18th 2011
Reviewer: Daniel Rego
Related Link: Band MySpace Page
Hits: 2447
Language: english

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Abysmal Dawn: Leveling The Plane of Existence
Posted by Jeff B, SoT Staff Writer on 2011-04-18 19:47:07
My Score:

If technical death metal (minus the metalcore influence that seems to dominate the scene nowadays) is your thing, you may have taken notice to Abysmal Dawn's 2008 effort for Relapse Records, Programmed to Consume. Fast-forward three years, and Abysmal Dawn has out their second album for Relapse (third album total) in the form of Leveling the Plane of Existence. This killer blend of old school U.S. death metal and modern technical death metal is one that should please Abysmal Dawn fans and newcomers alike. Leveling the Plane of Existence contains breathtaking musicianship, engaging compositions, and plenty of moments worth headbanging to - there's not much more I can ask for from a technical death metal album!

The music on Leveling the Plane of Existence is modern American death metal, but with ample doses of technicality and occasionally progressive tendencies. This is an album characterized by blinding leads, deep guttural growls, relentless drum patterns, and heavy guitar riffs - this isn't for the faint of heart! The musicianship is excellent across the board; Abysmal Dawn is a band that consists only of top-notch virtuosos. The amount of noise that this trio can make with only 3 people is truly admirable! Leveling the Plane of Existence clocks in at just under 40 minutes, which is a pretty great length for a technical death metal record. Not all tracks are extremely memorable ("In Service of Time" is the benchmark masterpiece here), but the short running length prevents this from becoming a large issue. The production is sleek, modern, and technically pleasing.

Abysmal Dawn really took me by surprise with their third album - I've sincerely had a great time listening to Leveling the Plane of Existence. It's not too common to hear a technical death metal album with this much power nowadays! This may not be the most original album on the planet, but it's difficult to argue with quality like this. This is a 3.5 star release from me, but it's damn close to a 4. Fans of technical death metal contemporaries in the vein of Obscura are advised to give this one a spin!

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