Review Summary: The Absence return to offer you another solid helping of American Melodic Death Metal.5 of 5 thought this review was well written
Florida's melodic death metal band "The Absence" are known well for their wizardry on pretty much all fronts. They have phenomenal guitarists, an almost inhuman drummer and a barely sane singer who has no problem destroying his throat for the common good of growling. Their fairly popular sophomore release "Riders of the Plague" made them a small, albeit growing blip on the metal radar. It had great songwriting being displayed among the features I listed above. Though overly-long, it had a handful of great tracks and was one of the better melodic death metal albums to come out recently, especially on the American Metal front. Hoping to top their efforts, The Absence have unleashed their new album "Enemy Unbound", and while not topping their previous release, it manages to be a very competent album standing on it's own.
Everything you have come to expect from The Absence is present here, the blistering drums, the lightning fast leads and of course, the violent growls courtesy of singer Jamey. One high point that also is a kind of problem for this album, is the vocals I mentioned. While being clear and plenty well screamed, they also showcase the step down the lyrics have taken on this album. The lyrics were one of my favorite parts of Riders of the Plague, and while these lyrics aren't really bad per-say, they are fairly generic. Once you know the title of the song, you can pretty much predict the chorus, and time the moment of the titles delivery. It's kind of a shame because most tracks follow the same pattern and it becomes fairly predictable by the time the album is running down.
Fortunately, a good portion of the melodies (which I consider the most important part of my "melo-death") are all very strong. Take the opening track for example, the absence has been known for doing good instrumentals, and fans of those wont be disappointed by the opener. It may be short, but it is one of the better tracks on the album. Unfortunately after this high point of the album, you are introduced to one of the low points, "Erased". This song is one of the most generic on the album and doesn't tread any new territory, nor does it feature any significant melodies. The next track "Deepest Wound" picks things up a bit and introduces a pretty good song with a very catchy chorus and a great guitar solo, it takes it's place among the better tracks on the album.
Where "Riders of the Plague" suffered from lackluster songs near the end of the album, "Enemy Unbound" has it's best moments in the final tracks. This series of great songs begins after the lackluster title track and similarly generic second single "Maelstrom", with the instrumental "Solace". It is a longer instrumental, featuring great piano work and some of the best melodies The Absence have produced. This songs kicks off what would seem like a whole new album, "The Bridge" comes storming in with a very ass kicking riff that puts the album in a more serious light. During the bridge and guitar solo the drums really step it up and unleash some volleys that pretty much punch you in the face, a killer track overall. "War Torn" and "Hidden in White" follow a similar style, pretty generic in their composition, but above average in their execution. They have great choruses and melodies, and "Hidden in White" in particular, has a really great guitar solo.
The final moments of this album are it's strongest, "Vengeance and Victory" is the strongest track on the album. It has a huge Amon Amarth influenced chorus melody that you can't help but feel uplifted from. It sadly features the predictable generic lyrics, however they are delivered along with some great melodies that lend them a certain power they would not otherwise have. The bridge and guitar solo on this track are also the best on the album, maybe not the fastest, but the best composed you will find here. The album closes with another instrumental, if you weren't uplifted by "Vengeance and Victory", this track will no doubt do the trick, and thankfully, ends the album on a very high note. Oddly, the track goes silent at about 2 minutes in and stays that way for about 8 minutes. At that point some tribal drumming and acoustics come in for a melody reminiscent of In Flames's track "Whoracle". It's an odd ending, but still suits the album well and makes for an interesting ending.
With "Enemy Unbound", The Absence have proved that they are still relevant in the American Metal community. It may not quite live up to it's predecessor, but for 2010 you could do much worse for your fill of straight forward Melodic Death Metal.