Abiotic
Ikigai


3.5
great

Review

by Robert Garland STAFF
February 24th, 2021 | 23 replies


Release Date: 02/12/2021 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A five year hiatus, only to end in seppuku...

From the beginning to the mid 2010’s, Abiotic were the poster boys of Floridan-based technical deathcore. By blending a high octane, groove orientated brand of deathcore with showering displays of technicality, Abiotic were set to rival other contemporaries in the genre in the vein of The Faceless and Born Of Osiris without completely trapping themselves within the clichés of those soundscapes. The band’s return from hiatus also saw a who’s who of replacements including Scale The Summit’s, Killian Duarte and Pathogenic drummer, Tony Lusk-Simone. If those couple of names weren’t quite enough of a head turner going into new Abiotic music, their newest record (and the subject of this review), Ikigai also features appearances from Brandon Ellis and Trevor Strnad (The Black Dahlia Murder), Jared Smith (Archspire), Scott Carstairs (Fallujah) and Jonathan Carpenter (ex-The Contortionist).

In terms of theology, Ikigai captures ideas from today’s world and combines them with a fantastical epiphany of sorts from the samurai depicted in the album’s cover. These ideas, these themes stem from the likes of facing intolerance, addiction, mental health issues in children and even nature being destroyed by climate change—somehow tying it back to a dying samurai on a 16th century battlefield. Still with me? Yeah, the themes are a bit reaching, delivered in the form of screams, roars, fancy guitar leads and blasting drum work - but in comparison to a lot of other groups within the death metal genre we could forgive Abiotic’s attempts to appeal to a modern world, especially on the back of a pandemic crisis. Introspectively, Ikigai is a reawakening for the Floridan death group who’s been away from the scene half the decade, restarting once again, with their third release.

A short Eastern-inspired introduction unveils the album’s titular piece, and yet “Ikigai” resorts quickly to a soundscape of bludgeoning death metal roars and proficient instrumental passages. The larger minatory display of technically displayed death metal climes scorch at the edges of the line between the worlds of death metal and deathcore and yet, there’s ample melody floating under bombastic riffs and even syncopation. For a fan who’s waited half a decade, Abiotic are off to a good start. “Smoldered” (featuring Chaney Crabb of Entheos fame) takes the moments of groove laid down before it and takes a rapid fire approach to the Abiotic formula. It’s here that the album finds another gear, becoming both heavier (in a literal sense) and adding higher levels of technicality. The guitar solo winds between mellow and blistering, adding breathing room to an otherwise intense track. It’s downfall however, is a fall back to those rather chug-a-long breakdowns.

In a one-two punch of The Black Dahlia Murder features, both “If I Do Die” and “Souviner Of Skin” add some variance to the Abiotic playbook. Trevor’s signature snarls cut cleanly through the blast beats and floating melodies. The tempo largely stomps its way from start to finish, taking the usual time out for an adventurous journey up and down a fret board or two. The solos are proficient, technical but are otherwise unspectacular in comparison to the rest of Ikigai’s soundscape.

What truly highlights Abiotic’s Ikigai is the Archspire featured, “Her Opus Mangled”. While the track itself doesn’t fall too from the formula that’s been presented the rest of the album, it does add a different element, a different direction to the group’s larger influence. “Her Opus Mangled” is more progressive, breathes in and out, and balances the stretched themes with interesting musical phrases (like that very tasty work on the bass). If we have to wait another five years for another full-length, it better feature a few more ideas like the ones mentioned in this particular track. On the other hand, the cleans provided by Jonathan Carpenter in “Grief Eater, Tear Drinker” offset the typical bludgeoning screams that dominate the rest of the album. There’s two directions here that Abiotic could take, aside from the obvious.

What Ikigai suffers from is blending—and in spades. A lot of the band’s compositional passages sound familiar, expected and simply too samey to thoroughly catch the ear of the listener over and over again. Even with a host of featurettes, the group’s formula lacks enough ‘wow’ moments to truly captivate a casual listener, while having one part stand above the next. “Covered The Cold Earth” may hit with a singular gusto, but it’s largely the same momentum that’s found in the record’s latter half. “The Wrath’s” introduction may feel like it’s building to something spectacular, but it’s the same general musical conviction wrapped under a different title.

While Abiotic have seen some larger levels of success with their 2021 release, there’s still a few little niggles that would otherwise hold the band back from being a premiere act. Largely, Ikigai would be nothing without a running concept, even if it’s as far-fetched as imagining what a dying 16th century samurai sees during his last moments and these thematic influences themselves draw some attention to the world as it is around the listener—but this album isn’t reliant on those features in order to relate to fans.



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user ratings (34)
3.5
great
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Nocte
Staff Reviewer
February 24th 2021


13995 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Because contribro's dont let other contribro's hang alone.



Bandcamp here: https://abiotic.bandcamp.com/



Also I'd want to rate this as a 3.2 or 3.3 rounded up for brevity's sake.

Digging: Esoctrilihum - Dy'th Requiem for the Serpent Telepath

TheNotrap
Staff Reviewer
February 24th 2021


15919 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Hahah you're on fire, how many reviews did you do this month?

Digging: Cannibal Corpse - Violence Unimagined

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
February 24th 2021


24257 Comments


Lol seppukuuuuuuu!!



Digging: Wolvennest - Temple

Nocte
Staff Reviewer
February 24th 2021


13995 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This month? Um, there's been nine weeks of the year gone and some of us are sitting on ten reviews for the year - to be fair though I might probably go quiet for the rest of the week/month.

TheNotrap
Staff Reviewer
February 24th 2021


15919 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Keep on going, please ;)

I listened to the album a couple of times and found it 3/5 solid. I will give it another go today.



Nocte
Staff Reviewer
February 24th 2021


13995 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I'll be back for Moonspell.

dedex
Contributing Reviewer
February 24th 2021


7592 Comments


Another day, another Nocte review!

Digging: Monobody - Comma

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
February 24th 2021


34974 Comments


dedex u are my ikigai

Digging: Xiu Xiu - OH NO

SteakByrnes
February 24th 2021


23311 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This album was fun, needed some good ol dxc when I jammed it and it delivered

Digging: Hail the Sun - New Age Filth

MiloRuggles
Staff Reviewer
February 24th 2021


1195 Comments


This sounds like a lot. Nice review (you're on fire), probably won't check haha

Nocte
Staff Reviewer
February 25th 2021


13995 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Couldn’t really blame you for that mr ruggles

TheNotrap
Staff Reviewer
February 25th 2021


15919 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

The Wrath has some serious Inanimate Existence vibes

Nocte
Staff Reviewer
February 26th 2021


13995 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yes, yes it do. How do rate this Notrap?

TheNotrap
Staff Reviewer
February 26th 2021


15919 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I'm leaning towards a 3 but I'm going to give it another spin.

Nocte
Staff Reviewer
February 26th 2021


13995 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

A three seems logically fair. Looking forward to seeing how it lands.

DungeonBoy
February 26th 2021


8168 Comments


I don't think this is my thing from the general aesthetics of the cover, but I laughed at the summary

Digging: Dvne - Etemen nka

ThyCrossAwaits
February 26th 2021


3574 Comments


“We need a drummer for our tech-death band”

“How about me?”

“Is your last name hyphenated and vaguely French? If not gtfo”

Digging: Xiu Xiu - OH NO

Nocte
Staff Reviewer
February 27th 2021


13995 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

That got a little chuckle out of me.

Flugmorph
February 27th 2021


23831 Comments


imagine listening to technical deathcore

Nocte
Staff Reviewer
February 27th 2021


13995 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Imagine listening...



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