In recent years the tides of change have shored upon Miami death metaller’s Abiotic, from signing to stalwarts Metal Blade to the additions of vocalist Travis Bartosek and Brent Phillips on drums, the latter especially supposedly invigorating the band with a renewed sense of exploration. In comparison to their debut, Casuistry (Metal Blade) certainly seems a step up the ladder, if not a mammoth leap.
On the surface there is very little that differentiates Casuistry from the hordes of like minded technical death metal bands that seeming to be jumping out of the wood work; from the rather sanitized but precise production values, the tones and the sheer technicality. Even Bartosek’s contributions, despite being an improvement on vocals, still fit the mould of their peers too well to stand out.
Where this does hold its head up is in its songwriting, which despite not being spectacular does successfully blend the use of towering grooves with the complexity the genre brings to mind; doing so without either element being overbearing. The songs are actually memorable and not purely exercises in virtuosity and style over substance. On the more unpredictable elements, Phillips deserves a mention for display which enables the band to move through more jarring and sudden pace changes with ease; offering Abiotic a much improved performance.
There is still work to be done if Abiotic want to reach the top of the pile in the technical death arena, but Casuistry shows clear signs of moving forward and development. Not a game changer by any means, but a solid effort in an ever more crowded landscape.
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