As we come to the end of the first third of the year, I cannot say that there have not been many great technical death metal albums released this year, especially compared to last year. Irreversible Mechanism and The Continuum are the only two that really have jumped out at me. So when I heard Abiotic were releasing a new album, “Casuistry,” on April 20, 2015, I was definitely interested.
Hailing from Miami, Florida, the five-piece group formed in 2010 with vocalist Ray Jimenez, bassist Alex Vazquez, drummer Andres Hurtado, and guitarists Matt Mendez and John Matos. The same year, the band released an EP, “A Universal Plague.” Abiotic signed to Metal Blade Records and released their debut album, “Symbiosis,” in 2012. Since then, vocalist Travis Bartosek and drummer Brent Phillips have replaced Jimenez and Hurtado.
The addition of Bartosek is the most immediately noticeable difference in the new Abiotic on “Casuistry.” It is not that his vocal style is drastically different (both Bartosek and Jimenez use similar booming low growls and screeching high screams), it is that the lyrics are actually decipherable. This could have been Jimenez’s delivery, or the way the vocals were previously, either way, being able to audibly understand lyrics in this genre are a premium. ‘Cast into the Depths’ is a good example of this. The contrasting guest vocal by Dying Fetus’ John Gallagher helps too. Another change are the slower, more structured songs.
Now, Abiotic has not gone full Job For A Cowboy on “Casuistry,” but the similarities are definitely there. Abiotic has always had a reckless aggression about their music that was mostly appealing, but sometimes detracting. Songs like ‘Reanimated Destruction, ’Violent Scriptures,’ and ‘The Absence of Purity’ still show that they can still invoke chaos, only now it is a little more controlled. Something that I think contributes to this new found control is the more deliberate and focused guitar solos by Mendez and Matos. The solos, Vazquez’s bass included, are much more thought out on tunes like ‘Nightmares of Your Conception’ and ‘Drain. Deface. Abolish.’
Job For A Cowboy or even Beyond Creation similarities aside, “Casuistry” could be a problem records for Abiotic. It is a transitional album, so some fans of old may not like it, but others and new listeners could be all over it. Either way, it shows a step forward in many ways, and one that I think is in the right direction.