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A few days ago, Abysmal Dawn released their third full length Leveling the Plane of Existence, and it's fairly rad. This is one of those bands that makes America proud, showing that Europeans aren't the only ones who can write death metal that's brutal and well-composed at the same time. Think Suffocation, early Decrepit Birth, Hate Eternal and just a hint of Decapitated thrown into a blender, and you have the basic recipe for Abysmal Dawn.
Right, let's get into this thing. The first thing that stood out for me on this album was its production value. It's funny I mentioned that they sound like Hate Eternal, because this album was mastered by none other than Erik Rutan, and his expertise really shines through here. The whole thing sounds crystal clear, but not in that sterile, overproduced way. No, what I mean by that is you can clearly hear everything going on at once; from the beefy riffs to the machine gun drums and shredding solos, nothing is left out. I wouldn't say it sounds organic, but it definitely sounds like real people playing real instruments and doing a damn good job at it, which leads me to my next topic, the music itself. As I said in the previous paragraph, the music on Leveling the Plane of Existence is very well written, settling comfortably into that gray area where it's not tech death but still much more technically proficient than your average death metal band. These guys didn't just slap a bunch of heavy-sounding riffs together and call it a song; no sir, you can tell by listening that the band put a lot of effort into their songs, spending a lot of time writing and revising until they felt everything was just right. Each song flows smoothly and no two songs sound exactly the same, as is the the problem with so many other bands these days.
As you may have gathered by now, this is a great album, but at the same time it's not without its pitfalls. I did have a couple minor issues with it, but nothing that ruined the experience. For one, there are times when it feels like there's a bit too much experimentation going on, most notably in the closing song "The Sleeper Awakens". For the most part it's just as good as the rest of the album, but then it suddenly slows down and turns into what I believe was a weird attempt at an atmospheric black metal segment, kind of like the beginning of "Der Rutenmarsch" from Belphegor. I admire the open-mindedness guys, but stick to death metal, it's what you're good at. The only other issue I had was that while it is a very good album, in all honesty it doesn't really stand out from the rest of the genre. The whole time I was listening to (and enjoying) this album, I just couldn't shake the impression that it sounded like an American band doing what plenty of other European bands like Disavowed and Hour of Penance have already done. But in the end, it's still totally worth getting.
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