Review Summary: Abysmal Torment strays from their older, more traditional Brutal Death Metal formula, and manages to reinvigorate themselves.
Abysmal Torment's style of brutal death metal on Epoch of Methodic Carnage
was unlike a lot of the genre. Instead of being too concerned with highly technical riffing or even many slamming moments, there was an omnipresent groove that propelled the tracks along with satisfying pace, whilst catchy riffs snuck in to do their part. Unfortunately, Cultivate the Apostate
failed to replicate that same success, with a lacking production job and a less distinct sound.
The Misanthrope isn't really a back to basics and it still doesn't really sound like the old Abysmal Torment, but whilst their new sound isn't as distinct as before, it is, thankfully, good. Their basic template seems to have been thrown away in favour of a sound more reminiscent of Hour of Penance
, with an overall faster pace and more complex sound, whilst little snippets of Origin
-esque technicality have been thrown in for good measure.
The results are overall pleasingly good. An adoption of 8 string guitars, normally a big yikes move for most death metal bands (see: Pestilence
), is none too egregious here, thanks to a very clean and well engineered mix with plenty of low end punch and no mud. The approach to riff writing has changed a lot, but plenty of catchy riffs permeate the tracks. The grooves of their earlier work still remain, however, which allows the songs to exceed the bands new influences: Squalid Thoughts
manages to balance the extremely fast driving drum work of their contemporaries with a brilliant grooving riff that shifts well with the varying tempos. The heightened melodic influence, whilst not overly prominent, does serve tracks like Second Death
well, with more memorable tremolo picked sections and some interesting, Cannibal Corpse
style harmonies, such as in the mid-course instrumental The Pessimist
. The overall depth of the tracks is also increased, with dueling guitar lines throughout most of the tracks and leading to much more interesting moments even on very aggressive tracks like Strains of Brutality
. All in all, the band seems much more comfortable with shifting to different tempos and incorporating more different types of riffs and melodies than on prior efforts.
The shift towards a perhaps more mainstream, but still equally energetic and well-executed form of death metal on The Misanthrope has given Abysmal Torment a second wind. Whilst not especially unique, there is a huge progression from their last effort and the quality of songwriting has been restored to a pleasing high, and in the process the band has managed to largely outdo their new influences.