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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: 1644
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!

Abysmal Dawn: Leveling The Plane of Existence
Posted by Brian Block, SoT Staff Writer on 2011-03-30 07:42:55
My Score:

Our Primitive Nature

Not to say anything bad about Abysmal Dawn, who has released one heck of an album, but overall the album is pretty unoriginal. Besides a few songs here and there most of it is you normal run of the mill death metal. It is in no way brutally heavy, but there is a sense of grandness to it that makes it a very enjoyable listen.

One of my favorite tracks on the album is "The Age of Ruin" because it is a totally different song from most of the rest of the album. The bass and guitar opening is very sinister, and one of the high points in originality on the album. The whole song, though barely two minutes, is a great opener and shows off great musicianship especially by Mike Cosio and Charles Elliot. Another short, but good, song is "Our Primitive Nature" which, as you can tell by the name, is a very basic, yet enjoyable song. It provides a nice interlude on the album and has some nice Congo work by Scott Fuller. The song is a nice lead up to "Perpetual Dormancy", and is one of the only other creative songs on "Leveling the Plane of Existence".

As I've said before, this album isn't really all that original, but even though it still produces some great riffs and melodies. The opening of "Manufactured Humanity" could have been taken right out of "The Sound of Perseverance", and has a nice electric guitar opening, but from there it levels out to a more plain sound. Most of the melodies are reminiscent of late Death work and also Morbid Angel. The solos are also pretty good, especially on "Manufactured Humanity" and the beginning of "In Service of Time". The slow sections, such as those on "The Sleeper Awakens", are very well played and add a nice touch to the album.

The production is pretty standard of the modern U.S. death metal scene, but it goes with the album fine. Relapse Records has, once again, struck something good this year and have really shown how good of a label they are.

"Leveling the Plane of Existence" is a nice effort from Abysmal Dawn, and any fan of their past releases should definitely consider picking this one up. Even though at times it can fall into some genre clichés, "Leveling the Plane of Existence" is a very good album with nice drum work, cool solos, and overall good musicianship. For their good effort Abysmal Dawn gets 3.5 stars.

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