The Absence - _Enemy Unbound_
(Metal Blade, 2010)
by: Aly Hassab El Naby (7.5 out of 10)
Melodic death metal is an expression that's being wrongfully misused on various online locations. Many a raging teenager uses it as a derogatory term to distinguish any band he'd like to accuse of being 'melodeath' or even the more infuriating 'MDM' from his beloved Triviums and Avenged Sevenfolds. What the little brats don't know is that their heroes who might have a hard time ordering a scotch are actually copying many of the basic ideas that were rooted in the original melodic death movement that started in the south west of Sweden in the '90s. But this is not an anti whatever-core tirade, my friends; it's about The Absence's new album _Enemy Unbound_.

As I mentioned in my review of their amazing _Riders of the Plague_, they do sound more Scandinavian than American at first listen, and that still holds with _Enemy Unbound_. The fundamental elements used by those guys are in fact mainly rooted in the Scandinavian lessons from the good old times. Crafty melodies, explosive drumming and intricate riffing has always been their standard operating procedure, and they are only getting better at it. The album's production is another point worth mentioning. It's not excessively polished like some albums are, which helps it retain its edge. It also isn't the poor quality of the ancient mid-'80s demos that came out of the same part of the world with unprecedented hunger.

The guys from sunny Florida seem to have a pretty potent formula and they are sticking to it. Now that doesn't downplay their creativity one iota. Their melodies are always catchy and will definitely stick with you. That being said, you wouldn't feel the need to have previous experience with the band's sound, because the introductory track "Vertigo" represents the band's sound quite masterfully. "Deepest Wound" is a glaring example of the band's clever interplay with melodic riffing and powerful drumming. Skillful writing is evident all over the album really with "Enemy Unbound", "The Bridge" and "Vengeance and Victory" coming to mind as quick references.

If you happen to follow the American metal scene, you must have realized how much of a mess deathcore bands are making with their label pleasing formulaic dross. Yet The Absence has remained defiant and continuously impressive; a welcome counterweight in the country output balance. Of course the US of A does have a large set of impressive bands, and you needn't look further than Lamb of God and Between the Buried and Me for a quick reference. But when the numbers grow, the impact of the overall quality is weakened. Fortunately, album number three from The Absence has successfully kept their heads high above the herd.


(article published 10/10/2010)

10/8/2009 A El Naby 7.5 The Absence - Riders of the Plague
10/10/2005 J Smit 6 The Absence - From Your Grave
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