Gripping eras and attention with its first touch, it is fair to say that Casuistry, the new album from progressive death metallers Abiotic, has grown into one fiercely fascinating and increasingly compelling proposition. The Miami quintet’s debut album Symbiosis three years back marked the band out as ones to seriously watch but it only hinted at the evolution and corruptive majesty now enthralling from within its successor. Casuistry had us hooked at go, only tightening its grip over every listen, so with big thanks to guitarist John Matos we had to delve deeper into the album; the less than settled times leading to its birth and the whole creative adventure involved.
Hello John and many thanks for taking time out to talk with us.
It has been a short while since your new album Casuistry was unleashed, a release which has come after an ‘eventful ‘time for the band in personnel changes alone. Has its release come with a flush of relief as well as excitement in some ways?
An album release is always full of excitement and nerves. On this one, we had to overcome some particularly difficult hurdles, but it’s made us stronger than ever before. Stoked to finally be able to show Casuistry to the world!
As a listener it is clear the impact both Brent (Phillips) and Travis (Bartosek) have made on not only the album but your sound too. Where did their contribution to Casuistry begin? Were songs already written before their arrival or were they heavily involved in that area too?
The music for Casuistry was just about done being written and in skeleton form when both Brent and Travis joined. Brent had some great ideas and really brought some power and creativity behind the kit. Travis had complete freedom on both lyrics and phrasing. Really blew us away with how catchy his phrasing was and how comfortable he looked. First time together in the studio and it felt like he’d been with us since the beginning.
How did you meet the pair and what inspired the (right) choice to bring them into the line-up?
We met Brent and at a show in south Florida where his band opened up for us. When that transition period began, he was my first choice in finding someone who’d be up to par with playing these tunes, but also with a lot of potential and drive. Brent was an easy decision for us and finding a good drummer is always hard, so we were very lucky! Travis came highly recommended from a friend in the Bay Area death metal scene in California. He auditioned, along with some others, and we decided his sound, tonality, and phrasing was what the new sound needed.
I am assuming the album took a fair amount of time to get from writing to release, from the disruptions alone. What is the time period to its creation?
We started working on new songs right before our run with The Faceless in 2013, so it had been a little over two years in the works. The disruptions actually worked out in our favor, because we had more time to make the songs the best they could be. We were able to give each song the time it deserved and I’m really glad it ended up that way.
Where would you say the changes in members have affected the album most, in the positive and the negative where you had to reassess ideas and intentions maybe?
Musically, we’ve always been on the same page as far as what our intentions were. We’d been talking about what we were wanting to do with the next record even during the Symbiosis album cycle. I feel like the member changes brought out even more so what we were trying to accomplish. We were able to explain our goals and find those key parts to the puzzle that wanted to accomplish the same things. The negative aspects were merely in the momentum. Because we were in a transitional period, we took a couple of steps back to make some necessary steps forward.
Our first taste of your sound was with debut album Symbiosis, which blew us away. In hindsight though, as we mentioned in our review it is now for us overshadowed by the maturity and sheer creative strength of Casuistry. Where do you see the differences and the strongest leaps between the two?
Thanks so much for the kind words! Glad you enjoyed Symbiosis. Strongest differences were definitely in the song writing. We really tried to focus on putting what gets fans enjoying Abiotic into catchy songs that aren’t overly technical or sounding forced. We also took the approach of this album being pummelling from beginning to end…No filler tracks or anything half assed. Every song has a focus and a goal on its own and in its place on the record as a whole.
Did you approach the new album, apart from the enforced issues, any differently to its predecessor in writing and in the studio?
We did it very differently than the first one, actually. On this one we were able to record pre-production for all the songs and really get a listeners point of view before going into the studio and finalizing. Our first album was written completely in a warehouse and we just practiced for hours. The new approach gave us a different perspective and allowed us to hone in our sound.
The album was recorded with producer Jamie King, a name which needs no introduction. What inspired the link-up and was there anything specifically you discovered in your sound and ideas through his input which brought something unexpected to the album?
We always had Jamie’s name in the mix when it came to recording. He’s recorded some of our favorite records and has a great relationship with Metal Blade. The opportunity presented itself and I could not be more satisfied with the product. Jamie really killed it! Jamie let us be us in the studio and creatively, kind of dick around. We were extremely prepared going in, so we had time to explore and Jamie created the exact kind of vibe and environment we needed to do that.
Any ideas inspired which you are looking to explore further in the next release?
We definitely want to explore some more progressive elements on the next one. We’re already working on some new stuff and it’s going in a cool direction already!
Two tracks on the album also feature guests in vocalist John Gallagher of Dying Fetus (Cast Into the Depths) and guitarist Paul Waggoner from Between the Buried and Me (Absence of Purity). What sparked their potent contributions to Casuistry?
We toured with Dying Fetus in 2013 and kept in touch. Those dudes are amazing and absolutely legendary. I still jam Fetus every day and having John on was an absolute honor. Jamie actually reached out to Paul for us in regards to the guest solo and I could not be more honored to get to play such an awesome solo live. Paul absolutely rips it on Absence of Purity and we’re very grateful for his contribution as well!
We obviously have our favourite moments on the album, is there any particular song or moment in a track which gives you that extra tingle of satisfaction?
I feel like the ending of Absence of Purity is the embodiment of everything we’ve had to go through as a band. Every obstacle we’ve overcome and all the uphill battles to come. I get that purely from the music and it gets me every time. Even on stage. I hope that other people get that same vibe.
You have blasted the album out live since May; did you expose the whole album to the stage in one go or choose particular tracks?
We’ll choose particular tracks for this one, but we’ll be playing about 5 or so new ones, so nearly half the album. It’s going to be a fun one, for sure!
When writing and creating tracks some bands have the live setting in mind to, how songs will translate to studio and gigs, and others of course worry about that after. How about with you guys?
Though we would not sacrifice creativity for it, we definitely keep the live setting in mind. We’re all fans first and really want to make sure everything translates well in the setting where we have everything to prove. We always want to keep our live show on par with what you hear on record.
What comes next for Abiotic after the tour?
Our goal is to stay as busy as we can during this cycle and see as many faces in as many cities as we can!
Once more thank you for chatting with us, any last thoughts you would like to add?
We can’t thank you all enough for the support and hope to see you at a show soon! Thank you for keeping metal alive!
Read our review of Casuistry @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2015/04/23/abiotic-casuistry/
The RingMaster Review 19/08/2015