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Abysmal Dawn - Leveling the Plane of Existence - 80%

tcgjarhead, October 7th, 2011

This is one of the better death metal releases in my opinion this year. The guys in Abysmal Dawn play semi technical death metal in the vein of old Morbid Angel. But its also pretty groovy at times as well which in the grand scheme of things works in their favor. Now the album clocks in at just under 40 minutes which is just about the perfect length I think. It isn't too short but doesn't drag on too long either.

On vocals (and guitars) we have Charles Elliot and he does a pretty good job here. Elliot mainly uses a deeper death growl but bassist Mike Casio also chimes in with higher rasps as well from time to time. Just enough to change it up and make sure the vox aren't so one dimensional.

As far as Elliot's skills with the guitar they are pretty good and the riffs are enjoyable. They are technical to a degree without having the listener lose interest in whats going on. I especially enjoy whats going on in In Service of Time which serves as the best cut on the album in my humble opinion. But its not all fast paced death metal there are a few slower numbers which are just as good like Perpetual Dormancy and The Sleeper Awakens. These two tracks break up the speed but flow well with the rest of the more technical tracks. The Sleeper Awakens is especially a nice album closer.

The drumming of Scott Fuller isn't very showy its sort of your run of the mill death metal stuff. Its actually pretty tight and in no way sloppy but not over done which can annoy me with certain drummers. As usual there is quite a bit of blast beats and pretty constant double bass.

Leveling the Plane of Existence gives us some in your face straight to the point death metal. The riffing doesn't get old and continues to be a good listen which is always great. And thankfully the songs are kept short instead of treading into the norms of some death metal bands to write "epic" songs that go off into the double digits for time. There is really nothing I can complain about accept if perhaps the drumming were a little more inventive, but that's about it.

Just Wait for the New Morbid Angel - 60%

FullMetalAttorney, April 21st, 2011

Abysmal Dawn is a straight-up death metal band from Los Angeles. I decided to pick up their third full-length, Leveling the Plane of Existence, based purely on the strength of the awesome album art. I'm not sure what it is, but it looks cool.

Anyway, after listening to the album, I have one question. Didn't anyone tell these guys Morbid Angel are already releasing an album this year? Their tones are close replicas of Morbid Angel, and their mid-paced chugging riffs have MA written all over them. The solos are of the slow chromatic variety as well. But few of the riffs have the memorability of an MA riff, and the solos seem to be thrown together without any thought put into them. "Rapture Renowned" and "Manufactured Humanity" are completely and entirely forgettable.

There are a few points of dim, obscured light, however. Other than a clumsy point in the solo of "Rapture Renowned", they play their instruments competently, and the death growls are competent as well. Closer "The Sleeper Awakens" changes things up quite a bit, sounding more like one of The Haunted's slower tracks. There is a catchy chorus to "In Service of Time", and "My Own Savior" gets a great groove going. Sadly, when they're at their best, it sounds even more like Morbid Angel, so as they gain in quality they lose in identity.

The Verdict: Morbid Angel are already releasing an album this year. You're better off waiting for that. This is not a terrible album by any means, but it's not going to be remembered by year's end.

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Proving decent death metal can come from the U.S. - 80%

Mosh_Rebellion, February 7th, 2011

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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No, but level within the plane of existence - 68%

autothrall, February 1st, 2011

Californian death metal. In the past decade we have been inundated with scores of brutal, belligerent bands who seamlessly marry the extremity of their influences with thirsty technical ability and the psycho-intellectual ardour of apocalyptic futurism. Names like Decrepit Birth, Severed Savior, Odious Mortem and The Faceless instantly come to mind, but in truth there are a large number of similar minded acts who are not necessarily attempting to reinvent the grinding wheels from which they have been spawned, but steer their vehicles of devastation through sidereal expanses of terrain that continue to entertain the willing younger generation of death metal fanatics (and rare old timers) who don't shun their explosive proficiency. Abysmal Dawn is one such act, and through their deals with Relapse and Crash Music, they have numbered themselves among the most visible in this burgeoning scene.

Whether they deserve the recognition or not is up for debate. I found both of their previous albums, From Ashes and Programmed to Consume to be decent, but ultimately too easy to relegate to the pile of forgetfulness. Great cover art, fluid technical abilities and enough of the sheer brutal aesthetic to satisfy fans of their primary influences like Suffocation, Morbid Angel and Cryptopsy, but little to grasp beyond a few mere dizzying headbang sessions. They are certainly capable of whittling out appropriate, acrobatic riffs: check the :48 second mark in "Rapture Renowned" or the driving, melodic spike that opens "Manufactured Humanity". But more often than not, the brighter moments are packaged within mere functional ballast that seems to exist only to fill the space of the composition. The band is never quite so schizoid and waltzing as Odious Mortem, extraneously jazzy as The Faceless, or ominous as Decrepit Birth, but they share a lot in common with most of the California counterparts.

Leveling the Plane of Existence is far from a boring album. Their jerking dynamic skills alone will guarantee that you don't doze off through the 40 minutes of material, but there are simply too few moments that manifest into something really gripping. The solos are competent but often feel like they stretch just a few seconds long into meaninglessness, and the breakdowns offer nothing more than chugging, ballistic competence. The production is polished and low end, with moments like the muted intro to "In Service of Time" as the control group, but at best the band pull off a few great riffs that serve them as a West Coast alternative to early Decapitated. There is certainly a market for this style, and Abysmal Dawn obviously put effort forward in the album's creation, but I found it subtly less enjoyable than their last two, and I think they've got better in them.