Through the Cracks of Death
~reviewed by Eric Rasmussen
I was ready to really slam Abscess for being generic death metal before I read a few things about them. Apparently the band was formed from the ashes of Autopsy, so Abscess isn't one of those groups that just now found its way into the death metal scene. This doesn't make them any more original, but it's good to know they've been at this for a while. More importantly, I found out the band lives very close to me, and could quite easily stop by to puncture my lung for a good laugh.
That being said, Abscess really is about what you'd expect from the name/cover. All the standard death metal elements are here, and you probably don't need me to list them out. Let's instead assume you've been acquainted with the prototypical death metal framework. That way we can discuss what separates Abscess from the death metal band whose bassist tried to vomit on me (note to readers - wear a poncho if you plan to see Exhumed). Actually, I think Abscess' Through The Cracks of Death is a formidable contender and ready to duke it out with all of death metal, so I'll save you the protracted dissertation about why Abscess is better than Exhumed.
Through the Cracks of Death is most notable for the groovy vibe. These guys do know how to bust out with a rockin' groove, which is exactly the kind of thing you'd want in a mosh pit, unless you're one of the people desperately trying to claw their way out. The riffs and solos are all well played, and some of the soloing fits with the groovy vibe in a cool way. Abscess have mysteriously lost or eaten several of the bass players they have worked with, so when it came time to record, all three band members shared bass duties. That's a lot of people to work on the one instrument you can't hear too clearly to begin with. I like production to be much cleaner than you'll get with Abscess, but the raw and gritty quality is more befitting of what the band is going for.
If I sound a bit lethargic in this review, it's because I just don't have the enthusiasm for this style of constantly repeated death metal that I once had. Come to think of it, I never had much enthusiasm for it. The reason I'm mentioning my own bias is because I don't feel I can give Abscess an entirely fair review - I think this is the kind of music that is much more intense and engaging in a live setting. If you've got a taste for recorded versions of blazing death metal performances, then Abscess is actually a pretty kickin' choice. Their sense of grooviness and ability to write real solos (instead of making a bunch of blippy noises) puts them pretty far ahead of their more humdrum competitors.
The CD also features an unorthodox amount of variety within a usual death metal context. There are slower bits and odd noises that seep out of the woodwork for no discernable reason - and that's part of why they work. There are even more atmospheric portions that are usually accompanied by the rest of the band. So we're not talking about "creepy" intros here, just weird breaks within the songs that give the music a darker feel than constant throbbing could.
Basically, if you consider yourself a death metal fan, it's in your best interest to listen to an Abscess mp3 and see what you think. If you're burned out on the style or simply don't get into rawer and groovier forms of death metal, then there's not much here you're likely to be interested by.