The Absence - Riders Of The Plague
Metal Blade
Melodic Death Metal
12 songs (55:23)
Release year: 2007
The Absence, Metal Blade
Reviewed by Dylan
In early August of this year, as I was scanning other metal-related sites for new bands to look out for, one band’s album kept getting rave reviews wherever I looked. That album was Riders of The Plague, coming from The Absence, a band that has previously gone unnoticed on my radar. It turns out that their 2004 debut, From Your Grave, also received seemingly nothing but positive feedback, and this, their second major release under Metal Blade, is supposed to be what puts them on the map. So with no previous exposure to the band, I was able to judge them with a relatively unbiased ear, with my hopes elevated slightly elevated form all the positive words spoken by the band. After three weeks of spinning this thing in its entirety, I must say that the band is extremely tight, knows how to remain consistent throughout an entire album, but isn’t really anything special.

I don’t think there is a band that is listed as a major influence on other metal band’s overall sounds as much as At The Gates has been. Much more often than not, that is where it seems like most extreme metal bands got the inspiration for the outline of their riffs. In the case of The Absence, they also did some heavy “borrowing” in their overall speed and vocal style as well. Vocalist Jamie Steward screams and growls also bear a substantial resemblance to the legendary Tomas Lindberg. Granted, guitarists Peter Joseph and Patrick Pintavalle (both of whom share bass duties as well) know their way around a fretboard, but choose to use the same melodic pattern that I’m sure most metalheads are familiar with: slightly dark, energetic, and easy to digest after the first or second listen. Attacking with quick pedal-tone jabs in the verses, they usually let the melodic and rhythmic tempo vary slightly; enough to let you know which section is the chorus. I get a strong Arch Enemy feeling from a lot of their riffs, as in the anthemic crusher Awakening and The Victorious Dead. Drummer Jeramie Kling fits the bill nicely, but seems to have only two modes. The first is the thrashing downbeat attack, while the other is a rolling double bass groove. It’s easy to headbang to and get a feel for; I just was hoping for more variation, especially towards the end of the album.

However, variation is one thing that both guitarists made sure to implement in their solos. If there is one area where this band shines brighter than the countless hordes, it is in their solos. Ranging from long and tasteful, as in the title track, to the jazz-tinged one found in Merciless, these guys manage to beat out almost every recent melodic death metal band I can think of, except for the godly leads of Arsis. When their solos happen to be combined with riffs that manage to stand out more than the rest, the result is a textbook example of how to play this type of music. The Murder and World Divides both have a subtle middle-eastern influence, and are among the best tracks of the album.

Riders of the Plague is an album that has made the melodic death metal mountain thicker, but not taller. When it’s good, it is very good. However, there are only four tracks out of eleven (one being a cover of Testament’s Into The Pit) that I would describe this way. Nothing here sucks; it’s just that I find my mind wandering through a large portion of the album when I’m not listening to any of the aforementioned songs. This is a solid release that any die-hard fan of the genre would be enamored with, but it is not essential for most metalheads who can name three bands from Sweden off the top of their head.
Killing Songs :
Dylan quoted 73 / 100
Jason quoted 80 / 100
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