Abacus - En Theory


If you've been paying any attention to the South Carolina music scene in the past few years, particularly the heavier end of the musical spectrum, you've been waiting on a full length Abacus album for a while. They put out five songs in 2013, and played loads of shows in support of that release ranging from houses to the ultra-trendy SXSW festival. While it was a damn fine burst of hardcore punk fury, it definitely left fans wanting more. “En Theory” provides all the catharsis expected from this long-awaited debut, and then some.

While their first official output was a competent exercise in first-wave metalcore, “En Theory” shows that release was merely a teaser for what was to come. Immediately, the band displays a sense of melody that was missing on their first e.p. with the instrumental opening track, “Culling Strength”. This proves to be a fitting warm-up for the album which then proceeds to beat the bejesus out of you with songs like “Snake Eater”. The instrumental interlude, “Figment” comes in halfway through the festivities to tease you with the possibility of a break, but provides only a brief calm before the rest of the storm.

Where this band's first e.p. kept pounding you with a steel mallet at a steady, but high speed, Abacus displays a more tactful, perhaps even masterful approach. Indeed, this is one of the few releases I've heard recently that actually sounds like an album. To clarify, this doesn't sound like just a collection of songs. There is a purpose here, and I can't be certain, but I think it's profound. Making something this good can't lack meaning. I refuse to believe this is just “some dudes jamming out” or some other band bio drivel.

If I could choose, (and I can, this is my review after all) this album's purpose is to stomp your ass, and make sure you don't forget who brought the steel-toed boots. These songs are as dynamic as they are aggressive. There are riffs here that would satisfy any metal or hardcore punk fan. The sound isn't bogged down by genres, but rises above them to create a truly vicious album. This is pulling-a-bus-with-your-earlobes heavy. This sounds like a pack of ravenous wolves bursting into homes, and tearing through flesh while the city burns.

In just under 30 minutes, Abacus will crush your soul, and simultaneously empower your spirit. I know you think that can't be done, but I'm telling you, this band has zero fucks to give about your rules or expectations. This is the kind of band that will come to your house, drink all your beer, blow out every window on the block, and shred your eardrums while making you dinner. No shit, I've seen it done. “En Theory” is a statement by a band who is clearly standing up, and demanding that you listen.

The second half of the album is almost a continuous buildup until the final song, “Nothing Is Sacred” obliterates every standard that you may have established in your head about heavy metal, and it's billions of sub-genres. The song increases the fervor to critical mass with near-constant blast-beats. The line between hardcore, and black metal is blurred to the point of being unrecognizable. Even during these exceptionally intense passages, the sense of melody is not lost; it transcends the fury, and brings an entirely new dynamic to the band. Ultimately, “En Theory” is the sound of total destruction, and progress all at once.

No comments:

Post a Comment