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Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Album Review: Absent/Minded – Alight

Founded in 2009, this gritty German collective seem most adept at summoning up swathes of death-doom all weighed down with a depressive post and black metal gloom that lingers long after the last note has sounded out. Now on their third album, their former sludgier efforts being Pulsar and Earthtone, they’ve called in V. Santura (Dark Fortress, Tryptikon) and this time they’re really gunning to leave their mark.

Well they certainly manage to injure with second track “Stargazin'” hammering home the emotional turmoil that surrounded the events of the doomed space shuttle Challenger. It plays out as a series of sound effects and news and interview clips over a strong memorable riff and thumping chords that roll around, echo and splinter. Such simple construction opens old wounds far quicker than any set of lyrics ever could.

Further in, the album’s stuttering portfolio fails to really menace as it should with the tracks staying rooted in one place. Depressive black tones bleed into long sequences of occult psyche and death and such tracks as “Clouds” and the lyrical curiosities “Skies Of No Return” and “So Dark The Con Of Man” provide little more than music to curl up to. The latter track implies that either somebody has been paying attention to the works of American author Dan Brown or those by Norwegian hip-hop duo Madcon and most certainly it seems to imply the infestation of religious thought. As an aside, the idea to base the con around the concept is interesting as they also use Carl Sagan’s famous quote about the earth being a single organism and “an organism at war with itself is doomed”.

Elsewhere, there is their usual solid fare of steady punishing death-doom. Powering up on overdrive they load their bases with sombre riffs, occasional spasms of double-kick and a death-rattle vocal. Suddenly, something loud and obnoxious and not overwrought. “Arrivers” proves to be another gem and offers an oblique shift in purpose – suddenly the sonic blitzkrieg of chugs and intrusive grunt finally gives the listener something to sink their teeth into.

Violent, abortive and, at times, bordering on grotesque Absent/Minded manage to graft together a raft of genres without ever truly nailing their colours to the mast. The times they actually hold the attention come all too briefly and in short sharp shocks of content. The potential in their thematic choices and the simpler, more urgent constructions do prove, however, that they have the capacity to provide a few shocks. Absent/Minded they may be but they certainly won’t be forgotten.

Stream here: https://aminded.bandcamp.com/

Also online @ Ave Noctum = http://www.avenoctum.com/2016/01/absentminded-alight-sr/
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