The Absence
Enemy Unbound

It’s this writer’s opinion that it’s time for more people to take notice of Florida’s The Absence. What we have here is an American band with a mostly Swedish sound (yeah, nothing new, I know), devoid of any “core” influence, that blows away nearly everyone, including the Swedes, and if I may be so bold, some of the founders of the Gothenburg sound. Yeah, I said it. In Flames, Dark Tranquillity – eat your heart out.

Enemy Unbound, the band’s third album, is another mark of excellence in the bands belt, another slightly thrash inflicted slab of rip-roarin’ melodeath. Though not quite as mean or intense as 2007’s Riders of the Plague, Enemy Unbound is still led by the amazingly ear-catching and jaw-dropping leads and melodies of guitarists Peter Joseph and Patrick Pintavalle.

Now, where as both previous albums had a few really stand out tracks amid the consistent quality, Enemy Unbound is simply solid all the way through – nothing truly jumps out above the rest, but this is not a bad thing. A few notable highlights however come by way of “The Bridge”, hosting one of the bands most memorable chorus’ yet; the title track, which is similar to past tracks such as “World Divides” and “Heaven Ablaze” in that it’s the albums super melodic, slightly slower and instantly memorable track; and “Deepest Wound” and “Maelstrom” being the albums heaviest and thrashiest songs.

My only true gripe of the album is of the eleven tracks, 3 are short instrumentals – album opener “Vertigo”, the mid album “Solace”, and closer “Triumph”. Granted, these all too brief pieces of music are also of exceptional quality, but I’d prefer to have more proper songs, or at least one average length instrumental. There’s actually another brief instrumental tucked away as a hidden track after several minutes of silence following “Triumph”. It has sort of a…I guess a tribal drum sort of feel and accompanying acoustic guitar bit. I consider this another gripe, as the hidden track thing is just stale now.

While I’m certainly not disappointed with Enemy Unbound, it doesn’t quite hit me as hard as it’s predecessors. Both From Your Grave and Riders of the Plague were my AOTY for 05 and 07 respectively. The Absence will not be taking that honor again this year, but rest assured, Enemy Unbound is still one of the year’s best releases. Now get to it.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Larry "Staylow" Owens
September 15th, 2010

Comments

  1. Commented by: mccumberv

    Yeah, these guys are indeed awesome, great riffs, great vocals, badass leads.

    What more do you metal nerds want!!!!!


  2. Commented by: faust666

    Been looking forward to this record..

    “What we have here is an American band with a mostly Swedish sound (yeah, nothing new, I know), devoid of any “core” influence..”

    Could have just said The Absence of any core influence , right , right ?? hahaha,, haha, ha…. I’m an idiot.


  3. Commented by: Jodi
  4. Commented by: Andy Synn

    I was/am quite disappointed with this record, I definitely don’t find it as “consistent” as you said, as there’s SO MUCH filler in my opinion.

    Tracks 1, 6, 7, 8 and 9 just don’t add… anything special to the brew. I also share your disappointment with the instrumentals, particularly “Triumph” as it cuts out at 2 mins, just as I was hoping it would pick up even further into a truly epic tour de force. I usually just end up putting it back on again!

    On the whole it’s a lot closer to “From Your Grave” than “Riders…” but seems to be lacking something in my opinion. I think it’s compounded by the issue that Jamie Stewart’s vocals and lyrics are less inspired this time around, standard rhyming patterns and delivery are fine when mixed with more interesting music or lyrical concepts, but his lyrics just don’t shine as cleverly as on “Riders…” this time around.

    Still, Erased, Deepest Wound, Maelstrom, Enemy Unbound and Vengeance & Victory (also, Merciless 2, if you have that?) are great songs by anyone’s standards. It’s jsut a disappointment the whole record didn’t stay at that level.


  5. Commented by: Staylow

    I have to admit, it took several spins for it to start sinking in/leave an impression. I was initially disappointed, but it grew on me. I’ve listened to it a couple more times since and my hasn’t changed. It’s extremely solid but lacks any true standout tracks.


  6. Commented by: Staylow

    *my opinion.

    My fingers can’t move as fast as my mind sometimes lol


  7. Commented by: noe,lvis txdm

    ^lol

    great album, cant wait to hear it again on vinyl


  8. Commented by: Stiffy

    Even though this band definitely has the chops, I can’t help but pass them off as At the Gates clones. I’ve tried on both of their previous albums but nothing grabs me like the good old days. Just me though. Good review as always.


  9. Commented by: Stiffy

    And I am a melo-death whore


  10. Commented by: Staylow

    I watched an interview with these guys where they said they really weren’t that influenced by At the Gates that much and wondered why so many people said it. They went on to say they draw much more inspiration from Edge of Sanity and Soilwork. I can see that, but I can also hear some ATG regardless of what they say. I can also hear a subtle bit of Megadeth influence in the riffing at times.


  11. Commented by: gabaghoul

    Stiffy if you are a melo-death whore what does that make your mom?


  12. Commented by: mike

    I like this album, it’s solid, but that probably compounds the disappointment for many. The Absence has promised much more than what they have delivered. Riders of the Plague had some grade-A guitar work, but the songwriting was long winded and not memorable.

    This is more stripped-back sounding, less thrashy too (compared to Riders) but lacks any inspiration. But there is only so much you can do with the MDM template.

    Anyhow, I will continue to spin the new Allegaeon album. Not that f’ing rules!


  13. Commented by: Clauricaune

    I’ve just listened to it and liked it. Maybe not as good as the past two, certainly without standout tracks, but it’s still very strong and enjoyable stuff. I’ll be returning to this one, no doubt.

    Anyway, Soilwork’s getting the melodeath crown this year, it seems.


  14. Commented by: Stiffy

    Soilwork’s new one is just a great album. Excellent song writting, great solos, and just the total package. However they aren’t melodic death anymore. We need a new Omnium Gatherum.


  15. Commented by: Desperado

    I second that Stiffy, Omnium Gatherum are among my favs. I remember playing that all the time when I first got the cd and my girl always asked me to crank it up or let her listen to my iPod. I’m stoked for a new release.

    I do have a question for the mellow-yellow-death fans out there. I’ve been away from the genre for some time since I grew tired of the (imho) stagnation taking place and am curious as to what kicks ass these days? I enjoy beauty, melancholy and solos, and tend to shy away from the clean crooning but if it clicks with me I’ll take it. So any recommendations would be helpful and appreciated.

    On topic, only heard a few songs but need to hear this album several times. I’ve never been a huge fan of them, but I seem to enjoy From Your Grave most. I remember them claiming Arch Enemy as amongst their biggest inspirations, I hear it everywhere on their albums.


  16. Commented by: crossfirecult

    “I enjoy beauty, melancholy and solos”

    try Be’lakor


  17. Commented by: Appollyonx

    I liked From You Grave, I’ll have to check this one out


  18. Commented by: stiffy

    Yeah Be’lakor is a good rec. Also check out Noumena.


  19. Commented by: Staylow

    Desperado, check out Be’lakor for sure, great rec there crossfire. Unmoored’s Indefinite Soul-Extension is a great album, a bit older but rarely talked about. Kalmah’ latest, 12 Gauge, is pretty good. Demiurg – Slakthus Gamleby is a bit more stout, but is one of the years best. And one final rec, Barren Earth – Curse of the Red River – great, somber sort of stuff similar to Insomnium.


  20. Commented by: Desperado

    Thanks for the recs guys, Be-lakor turned out to be great, I still need to check out Noumena. I like Unmoored alot, and the others you mentioned guys are all good. I really want Torchbearer to come out with a new album already, Warnaments was among my favs and still gets heavy rotation.


  21. Commented by: Staylow

    They’ve been talking about, and had named, a new Torchbearer album since late last year. I wish they’d released it already, because I’m highly anticipating that one as well. Also wish Unmoored would do another album, but this seems much further away.


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