With a name like Abhorrent Decimation, you know what kind of music you’re getting into. And with that caveat in mind, The Pardoner (Prosthetic) doesn’t disappoint in the extreme department. You get 10 slices of heavy and technically leaning Death Metal that sounds equal parts Thy Art is Murder and The Black Dahlia Murder with a dash of The Acacia Strain. All things considered, The Pardoner satisfies the Death Metal urges, particularly for fans who came about in the wake of the Deathcore boom, but it’s not as good as it could be.
The biggest weakness on The Pardoner is its sonic excess. Just because you can write a near 10-minute song, or add keyboards, doesn’t always mean you should. ‘Soothsayer’ works wonders as an opening track, but you’re going to sit through needless piano before any riffs come into play. And you know those keys are coming back to bookend not one, but two tracks, including the impressive title track that closes the record. ‘Votive Offerings’ was a storm of violent jackhammer beats and chemical burn riffs until useless ambient guitar noise sidelines it for minutes before a meaty breakdown saves the track. Same goes for ‘Black Candle Gathering’ which had some mosh going for it until too much atmosphere thwarted its momentum.
Where The Pardoner does impress with, though, is that it’s an Extreme Metal album that isn’t frontloaded, the best stuff is in the second half. ‘Conspire’ succeeds because guitarists Will Cooke and Ross McLennan treat the track like it’s the shred Olympics. ‘A Glass Coffin Burial’ is another improvised explosive device that’s jammed to the gills with razor riffs and infinite drum fills. Aside from ill-attempted bookend, ‘The Pardoner’ is another banger that roars out of the gate like Rivers of Nihil hopped up on Redbull.
While The Pardoner wasn’t the full on Death Metal semi-classic I wanted it to be, there are mounds of upside with these Londoners. Considering this is the second album for a band that’s only been around for 4 years, they’re gonna be just fine.