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gk, December 11th, 2008

My first exposure to Abysmal Dawn was the band’s 2006 debut album From Ashes which is one of the most uninspiring and insipid albums I’ve heard and it was only after some constant praise from a friend on the forums that I bothered giving this album a try. I have to say that I’m pretty glad I did.

Abysmal Dawn’s Programmed to Consume is the band’s second full length out this year through Relapse. The band play a form of death metal that is derivative but at the same time is stuffed full of terrific grooves and the kind of hell for leather aggression that you expect from a death metal band. At the same time, there are enough touches of inspiration, changing of tempos, kickass soloing and slight flirtation with black metal to keep things always interesting.

The band’s sound is a nice who’s who of classic death metal with songs bearing touches of everything from Malevolent Creation to Morbid Angel and Suffocation while the lead playing reminds me of Decapitated. It is in fact the guitar playing of Charles Elliot and Ian Jekelis that sets this band apart from a large chunk of their peers. The songs are full of great riffs that go from jackhammer intensity to slowed down atmospheric guitar parts and every song on this album has at least one really big fat groove. The high quality lead playing is simply the icing on the cake. Elliot also turns in a very good performance as vocalist alternating between a solid death metal growl a raspy voice that is very effective.

Stand out tracks include album opener and title song Programmed to Consume, the mid paced groove monster Twilight’s Fallen, The Descent with its slight black metal feel mixed up with classic Morbid Angel and the superb album closer Walk the Path of Fire.

Overall, Programmed to Consume is a high quality death metal album. The band is not doing anything new within the genre but much like Thorium, they stick to writing memorable songs within a well established framework and manage to pull off a very enjoyable album. Also, with the level of improvement between the debut and this album the band might well pull off something truly special next time around. As it is, they’ve come pretty close this time.

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