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Chances are if you knew Abnegation before this review, you knew this early brutal death metal band because of the album cover of this album, Verses of the Bleeding. It's a gruesome thing, mind you: a woman splayed out on a bed and missing her frontal lobe. From what I've heard (which may or may not be true), it was the results of a pit bull that was taught to attack on command, and its owner, the woman's husband, didn't like his mate anymore. Pretty brutal shit, if you ask me. Fake or not, it gets my vote of one of the most brutal album covers I have ever seen. But now I'm getting a bit off-topic.
Abnegation's Verses of the Bleeding is a brutal death metal album released in 1997. It abounds with Suffocation worship, decent riffs, and average vocals. There are some memorable parts in the music, but for the most part there isn't much actually going on throughout the musical composition.
The vocals are typical Frank Mullen emulation, but the singer keeps the formula from going entirely stale because of his voice which brings thoughts of other death metal vocalists, like that of Glen Benton and sometimes even George Fisher. Despite the fact that his voice is very cool-sounding, the actual vocal execution is boring, as the singer never really tries anything fast or catchy, and half the time, simply says the lyrics whenever he feels like it with no attention to the rhythm of the drums or guitars. The highs are the opposite: they are very catchy, but at the same time they are generic as fuck, and I can name quite a few BDM vocalists who sound just like this. The highs are often layered with the gutturals, and it's probably the best the vocals sound on this release. Finally, every now and then you'll also get what reminds me of classic hardcore vocals. They're not bad, but they're a bit out of place.
The guitars are usually either death metal-style breakdowns or tremolo riffs, and they either use a very melodic tone or a crunchy tone that brings memories of Butchered at Birth's unique guitar sound. The actual riffs are best when they're slowed down, as most of the tremolos seem to pass straight through one ear and out the other. Most of the songs' content is brutal death metal, but there is a Venom cover on this CD and it feels quite a bit out of place with this band's music. The guitar isn't downtuned, and yet at the same time the vocalist attempts to continue his gutturals. The juxtaposition almost makes the song not worth listening to.
And here we are at the drums (bass could not be located), which are, for me, the lowest part of this album. Why? Well, the snare sounds trashy, but I've listened to a bunch of albums where the trashy snare actually sounded good. The cymbals and crash sound nice, though it takes a seriously shitty drumkit to make them not sound good. So what is the problem here? You guessed it - the bass drum. Like another band I reviewed, Teratism, Abnegation's bass drum sounds very unpleasant. Slapping an obese person's ass... hitting a rotting wood block... laxative-induced flatulence... typing on a typewriter at blast-beat speeds... whatever you imagine it to be, it's very disgusting. Now, I actually like the drumwork here: fills abound (especially at the beginnings of songs), and it drives itself forward with drum rolls on the bass drum, but I simply can't tolerate the drums when their main component sounds like utter shit.
If I had to choose a favorite song here, it'd either be "When the Smoke Clears" (which, unfortunately, is the shortest song you'll find here) or "Bury the Needle" (the second-shortest song - is my mind trying to tell me something?). "When the Smoke Clears" uses the normal guitar tone and has vocals reminiscent of George Fisher. Ironically, "Bury the Needle" is the song that reminds me the most of pre-1995 Cannibal Corpse due to the aforementioned inimitable guitar tone and the vocals.
Overall, this probably isn't an album that's worth hunting down on the Internet, but it's not going to make your ears bleed, either. It's pretty average, actually, unlike the picture that graced its CD cover. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go worship the album cover to Verses of the Bleeding, which is exponentially better than the music it holds inside.