THE ABSENCE - A Gift For The Obsessed
April 15, 2018, a month ago
If that band name seems familiar, it's because The Absence put out three records on Metal Blade between 2005 and 2010 and made some noise while on tour with the likes of Entombed, Dismember, Voivod, Destruction, and The Black Dahlia Murder, among others. Now, after an eight year, err, absence, The Absence has returned to further its melodic death metal legacy with A Gift For The Obsessed.
It's kind of a shame that this Tampa band flew relatively under the radar during the 2000s, because its records are well-constructed and supremely listenable (save for the production on From Your Grave, the debut), the group full of obvious skill and inspiration. By 2010's Enemy Unbound, The Absence had become a band that clearly had put in its 10,000 hours of practice to become expert-like: Enemy Unbound is a strong, strong combination of thrash and Gothenburg that not nearly enough metal fans talk about.
A Gift For The Obsessed follows in those footsteps, but this new record reveals even sharper teeth. To start with, while previous records were home to ultra-slick production, A Gift For The Obsessed's sonic casing is fiercer and more genuine, even though things remain polished. And the songwriting does that production proud as The Absence by no means has lost its ability to write meticulous, perfectionist metal tracks that should receive far more acclaim than they do. "Celestial Hysteria", "Septic Testament", "The Alpha Illusion", "Fear of Existence" and the title track are the work of those seemingly obsessed with their craft, writing and re-writing until the tracks impress like custom made suits at a downtown dinner party.
And then there's "You Can't Bring Me Down", the best song Anthrax (and its hypothetical death-thrash son) never wrote. This track is the kind of vigor that makes listeners truly take notice, and if The Absence continues its path but includes another three or four manifestations of "You Can't Bring Me Down" on its next record, watch out.