The Absence

Sometimes, if you get the opportunity, there’s nothing sweeter than doing something just because you friggin’ want to. For example (and I understand this is sorta an extreme one) – no one buys a vintage sports car because it’s practical, safe, or smart. No, you do it because you want a friggin’ vintage sports car! You do it for passion, you do it because there’s a nagging desire eating away at the back of your mind that, no matter what you do, you cannot shake. It’s that simple. And if you’re gonna forego any sense of practicality or reason and actually buy a vintage sports car – you’re probably gonna get the best of the best, right? Why bother doing it if not?

For over 15 years now, if I found myself wanting to listen to American Melodic Death Metal, the choice of who to listen to has remained pretty clear – I’m going with The Absence almost every time.

Maybe it seems a little harsh – and I swear I don’t mean it as any kind of insult – but that’s pretty much the only reason you listen to The Absence, right? We’re not talking about a group of genre-benders or particularly musically-progressive metalheads here, we’re talking a group of Floridians who are very fond of a particular sound and are very, VERY good at delivering it – and on Coffinized, The Absence are back at it again delivering exactly what you’d expect, which is still a very, very good thing. “MEHHHH They’re still just ripping off At The Ga SHOVE IT DORK I DON’T CARE.

The boys from Tampa get right down to business on the title-track opener, and really don’t bother letting the foot off their all-things-Melodeath-worshipping pedal for the whole of this fantastic ride. But while this all may seem a bit familiar to you (is that such a bad thing these days?) – it seems clear that the time spent in isolation during the past year has only served as a creative muse for the band. The end product feels fully energized and focused – channeling a year’s worth of loneliness, frustration and sorrow – along with the hope and victories hidden amongst all the bullshit – into a collection of songs that feel at times as bleak (the heavier, plodding middle section of “Cathedral Dawn” or the more frantic, early-Arch Enemy riffing of “Radiant Devastation”, ) as they often do triumphant (check out those epic leads at the end of “Aperture Expands).

Seriously though, if Melodic Death Metal is your thing, Coffinized, as the band has done time and again, is just chock full of recalls from the best of the best. Where the title track and follow-up “Future Terminal” could each be lifted straight from the Slaughter of the Soul playbook, “Discordia” and “Treacherous” could just as easily be special edition extras from “The Chainheart Machine” or “A Predator’s Portrait.” Along with the aforementioned “Radiant Devastation,” “Black Providence” has me fondly recalling the Burning Bridges/Wages of Sin Arch Enemy glory years with total glee. Call it “worship” or “ripping off” or whatever the hell you want, but guitarist Taylor Nordberg wears his influences confidently on his sleeve, and pulls off an utterly convincing, spot-on performance that’d have you believing he was right there in Gothenburg in the 90s helping pioneer the genre. The riffing is crisp and inspired throughout the album, and the signature melodies and leads are as invigorated as ever. In fact there isn’t a lacking performance anywhere to be found here – the vocals, the drums, the bass, the production, everything is sharp as a tack and on-point.

Look, you know exactly who this band is, you know exactly what this album is, and chances are, you already know whether or not you’re at all interested in it. If you’re over the whole Melodeath thing, or you were never into it to begin with, I’m sure I lost you a while ago. Fine. For those of you still here, know this – Coffinized proves that the band’s comeback with A Gift for the Obsessed was just the start of the band’s rebirth. They’re back, and they’re better than ever. Sure, there’s a whole lot of newer, shinier forms of metal out there worth your time, effort and money that might not get you ridiculed for holding on to such an “outdated” sound. But fuck ‘em. If Melodic Death metal still brings you joy in 2021, or if you’re a new metalhead who hasn’t yet explored it, you still can’t do much better than these dudes for a stellar American example. Black Dahlia Murder? Ya’ll are great. Light This City? I love ya, truly. But for my money? I’m still riding with The Absence.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Steve K
June 14th, 2021


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