Album Review: THE ABSENCE – A Gift For The Obsessed

Tampa thrash/death band puts out MONSTEROUS album after 5 year hiatus

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The Absence – A Gift For The Obsessed

Label: M-Theory Audio

March 23, 2018

WHATS UP METAL HEADZ??? So we all know that Tampa, FL is the birthplace of American Death Metal, and the latest release from The Absence is a masterpiece among countless bay area bangers. A Gift For The Obsessed is the band’s fourth full-length release. It features Jeramie Kling (Venom Inc, Ribspreader) on drums, Jamie Stewart (Hot Graves) on vocals, Mike Leon (Soulfly) on bass, and Taylor Nordberg (Soilwork , Ribspreader) and Joey Concepcion (Sanctuary) on guitars. The Absence has a special way of melding thrash and death metal together. They create an emotionally charged, groove-laden musical journey that eventually explodes into furious blast beats and ferocious vocals that displace your soul into a frenzy of violent bodily convulsions. All while your brain melts from the insanely precise technical but emotional shredding happening in the middle of it all. Fucking metal.

Like most music lovers, I have music on all forms of media, such as vinyl, which as we all know has been making a comeback, along with cassettes and that’s great. That white noise subtly in the background and the crack and pop of the needle…mmm to me nothing is as pleasing to the senses than listening to analog recordings. Hearing this album on both analog and digital formats helps me have a well-rounded perspective and allows for cool nuances. For example: the track listings on A Gift For The Obsessed differ from the vinyl to the digital copy. Flow of an album is a big thing for me and both arrangements flow well, though I think I enjoy the vinyl order more than the digital, but that’s just me.

Lets jump into this album and start with the first song you hear when the needle hits the record titled “The Forging”. Immediately the prowess of this Tampa powerhouse is felt within your very soul as the intro thrash guitar riffs waste no time punching you in the face and setting the tone for this monstrous musical offering. The guitar work of Taylor Nordberg and Joey Concepcion is beyond incredible. Being a guitarist myself, I always immediately listen to the tone, structure, and overall mood of the guitar and these guys might as well be wizards as far as I’m concerned. The song structures guitar wise are all over the place, but in a great way. At times, the music is tight and pulled in while other times it opens up and seamlessly moves from one dynamic to the other. That is part of the genius of Jeramie Kling and the way he guides the flow of the songs with his drums.

Each song has its own identity, but there is one song that stands out to me, and that’s “Septic Testament”. The opening lines set the tone for a very deep inward reflection as Jamie bellows:

I’ve seen the rotten Masquerade
I’ve heard the thin veiled vows
I’ve seen you snap like a filament
In the face of true resolve

These spells of porous conviction
They forever seem to seep from
The weeping eyes and tainted trust
Of seasoned liars and lifelong thieves

The song starts up with a musical explosion of vocals and guitars. One guitar is abusing their whammy bar for a swelling effect while the other tears away on a lone riff. The bass, drums and the other guitar join only a few seconds later as the song gallops forward into a thrashy-groove sure to thump the heartbeat of any mosh pit.
Packed with harmonies, head banging hooks, beautifully crafted solos, and an Arabic style clean guitar bridge, “Septic Testament” offers up a track reminiscent of Master of Puppets era Metallica where the ferocity of the music wasn’t compromised by the emotion and finesse that went into creating it. From start to finish, the song is a musical journey pulling you in every direction until it hits you right in the feels as it fades into the distance.

These are just two examples of the amazing musical statements made by this young and talented band. The rest of the album is like the aforementioned tracks, simply brilliant. Other favorites of mine include, “Thought and Memory” and “Celestial Hysteria”.  Also need to point out I didn’t have a chance to shine on the bassist Mike Leon yet, but that’s because the entire album has the most solid filling low-end sound you’ll find anywhere. Music is a journey and this gift from The Absence delivers in every way possible. If you are a fan of good, dynamic heavy music then A Gift For The Obsessed needs to be apart of your musical catalog!!!

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