I can't thank fate enough for bringing me together with this one! This is fookin awesome! Metal Blade records have found themselves a real cause to get behind in Tampa, Florida's The Absence. Especially, when you consider that Riders of the Plague is only the bands second effort and in terms of finding your stride, that is astonishingly fast. It just goes to show you what a little extra pre-production prep work can do for you.
For the sake of definition you could call this highly faceted sound: Thrash-infused melodic Death Metal with absolutely stellar guitar solos. Think Heartwork era Carcass and maybe throw some modern sounds from Hypocrisy & Arch Enemy and you are getting the idea. These 12 tracks complete with melody, diversity and technique really leave you asking…What more do I need? When you hear "The Murderer" (A true highlight) you get all the best elements of the aforementioned influences played with a convincing and muscular ferocity/dexterity while never compromising the energy in the slightest.
Vocalist Jamie Stewart delivers convincing and "throaty" death style vocals that are clearly enunciated and at times, extremely guttural as heard in the title cut "Riders of the Plague". He also has a keen sense of rhythm that helps the vocals work in tandem with the instruments as a part of the total or overall sound. Speaking of rhythm… Drummer Jeramie King does an excellent job of holding the songs together with his solid control. He just continues to develop and grow as a musician; handling the differing tempos on here with awesome focus for the development of mood and just good detail overall. As for the guitar solos… for which Peter Joseph and Patrick Pintaville share equally, they are incredible! They are the absolute highlight of the disc. Always full of surprises and taking interesting twists and turns, these are harmonic statements of proper build-up and balls out shred! It should be mentioned that no other than the legendary James Murphy steps in to play lead on "Awakening" and "Outro" and he really adds his signature sound to the former in terms of the "ghostly" harmony lines found throughout the song. It seems fitting to add that the band does a cover of James's former band Testament in the form of "Into the Pit" which damn near equals the original!
The dense production of the CD just destroys. The sound of the guitars is just insanely thick and thanks to a nice balance in the superb mix everything comes out very clear and easy to discern. More people should be looking up Jonas Kjellgren after they have heard this because it's that good.
Riders of the Plague is highly recommended for those looking for a recording with high replay value and a genuinely stimulating musical experience. Get this!
1. Riders of the Plague
2. Dead and Gone
3. The Murder
5. World Divides
7. "Silent Track"
10. Into the Pit
11. The Victorious