Abiotic have had an odd trajectory. They released an honestly bland debut in 2012, then a good follow up in 2015. While a little half-baked, it seemed like a step in the right direction, and made me think the only way to go for them was up. Then, silence.

Enter 2021 and their new album, Ikigai on perhaps a more fitting label, The Artisan Era. Let’s just open up with saying that this album is a banger, full of song of the year material, and in fact, perhaps, an early contender to be on my year end list.

The first track is the intro, which is called “Natsukashii.” The Eastern instrumentation aligns well with the artwork, as well as the description the band released stating that they like space and aliens but wanted to write something more identifiable. Mission accomplished.

Just to get it out of the way: There are a ton of guest appearances on this album, mainly in the vocal department. Track 4, “Smoldered,” has Chaney Crabb of the underrated Entheos. Trevor from The Black Dahlia Murder appears on track 7, “Souvenir of Skin.” Then, on track 10, “Grief Eater, Tear Drinker,” Jonathan Carpenter, formerly of The Contortionist, contributes some Cynic vibes to the vocal (no vocoder).

“Souvenir of Skin,” which was mentioned above, is a standout. Trevor is present throughout the entire track with his easily recognizable snarl. The call and response between he and Travis in the chorus is very well done. Of course, there are also great leads because this is a technical death metal album, but perhaps the best part of it is that Gojira-esque breakdown about 4 minutes in.

On the next track, “Her Opus Mangled,” the guest is Jared Smith of Archspire. He’s the bassist for his main project, and if you’ve ever heard them, you know he’s great. This track excels because of the varied vocals, however, and the lead guitar work, BUT the bass has quite the background presence during that excellent guitar work. There’s a solid breakdown about 4 minutes in and some whispered vocals to play the track out (What does that mean “to play us out?”).

There’s only one complaint about this album, and unfortunately, it may keep some from coming back to it over the years ahead. It’s 51 minutes long. Every track beside the intro exceeds 4 minutes and the vast majority exceeds 5. That’s not egregious by any means, but with this type of album, it’s typically long enough to be grating on the ears. That also occurs when the production is too loud or brick walled in tech death. Luckily, that’s not the case. There’s also enough variance in tempo, vocals, and instrumentation to keep any of this from being a problem. Otherwise, as I mentioned near the beginning of the review, this one’s a banger. I have 4 albums on my year end list already (yes, I know it is too early, and things will definitely change). Those 4 are Asphyx, Nervosa, Crawl Below, and now Abiotic.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by J Mays
March 3rd, 2021


  1. Commented by: F.Rini

    Nice review James. I don’t know much about this band but this is a cool album and as u pointed out they’re on a good label where they fit. Definitely Asphyx and Nervosa on best of.

  2. Commented by: Nick K

    I opened for these guys many years ago in one of my old bands and i could tell they were still maturing. I will have to give this a solid listen. Great review James!

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