There is no doubt that Symbiosis, the debut album from Florida technical death metallers Abiotic, is an album which will split opinion. For those it fires the passions up within there will be an immediate reassessing of best of year lists whilst those for whom it sparks the opposite reactions there will be a just as immediate consignment to the best forgotten bin. Obviously taking a listen is the only way to decide with any band but especially with one as explosive and impressively destructive as Abiotic, but to deny them the opportunity to plead their mesmeric and malicious case would be a big mistake.
Symbiosis is glorious, an overwhelming and disorientating onslaught of skilled musicianship, breath taking intensity, and knee buckling imaginative exploits. Each song is an insidious web of enterprise and technically blinding invention, a dehabilitating fury which leaves one struck down and sprawling on the floor of a sonic abattoir. There are many bands which rip up the rule book and forge their own maelstrom of death metal malice and multi flavoured additives but very few come to mind as accomplished and simply as impressively in control of their inferno driven bedlam as Abiotic.
Formed in 2010, the Miami quintet of vocalist Ray Jimenez, guitarists Johnathan Matos and Matt Mendez, bassist Alex Vazquez, and Andres Hurtado on drums, took no time in garnering strong attention and responses through their blistering live performances and the release of two singles and the seven track EP, A Universal Plague. This soon led them to the attention of Metal Blade Records who release Symbiosis. The album is a sonic confrontation which makes the term highly abrasive seem like a gentle oil massage, but within the unbridled storm the band unleash some deliciously mesmeric and melodic elegance, though always twisted into their own excruciatingly imaginative and sensational design. It is not an easy listen but with no reservation can be acclaimed one of the most rewarding.
From the words of the band, “Lyrically, this record embraces several sociological, anthropological, and philosophical perspectives. We’re interested in themes that will enable us to explore patterns and paradigms of culture, religion, and society, among other aspects”. To be honestthat we will have to assume until the written lyrics are seen as vocally it was impossible for these well punished ears to find clarity to the deliveries, though the dual attack was immensely pleasing and invigorating. Each song is a perpetual duel within the crushing sounds between a guttural swine driven onslaught and venomous serpentine squalls, both standing upright against each other and in a unified malevolence.
From the opening building atmospheres of Metamorphilia, the opening track has all focus in its direction. It is only a brief intro and despite not being anything particularly staggering still manages to ensure that the senses are primed for the attack of the excellent Vermosapien. A rabid creation of grazing sonics, crippling rhythms, and lashing riffs, the track sears the ear as it skewers the brain with brutal incendiary expertise and invention. The guitars transform notes into spears of vicious pleasure whilst the bass of Vazquez just hypnotises with its expressive manipulations and ingenious heart. Everything on Symbiosis is of the highest skill and enjoyment but Vazquez arguably steals the overall show.
As the likes of A Universal Plague, To Burgeon and Languish, and the stunning Hegira rampage and redesign the synapses, the seductive sonic treachery is in full control, the corruption unstoppable but lustfully welcomed by the heart. Only midway through the album you are feeling like you have been mugged by a colossal aural kaleidoscope and the only thought is to ask for plenty more which the following Conquest of Gliese, The Singe, and The Graze of Locusts to name just three of the mighty violations, are only too happy to satisfy.
Symbiosis is wonderfully varied which just a surface engagement maybe disguises a little but with bravery and endeavour to crawl beneath the devastating conflagration, the striking invention and diversity is openly apparent and rewarding. If the thought of a sizing up between The Faceless and The Black Dahlia Murder is appealing then Abiotic is the band to investigate. One can only see great things ahead for this titanic band.
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