Abysmal Dawn - Programmed to Consume
Relapse Records
Death Metal
9 songs (37'23")
Release year: 2008
Abysmal Dawn, Relapse Records
Reviewed by Alex

Metal Gods and the time Programmed to Consumespent in my CD player are my witnesses – I agonized to like this new Abysmal Dawn album. This newcomer LA death metal band made an indelible impression on me with their debut From Ashes. The latter still finds its way into my rotation often, and was definitely one of the discoveries in 2006. Explosive, dark, melodic, and just enough technical, the album captivated from start to finish. Shame on Crash for letting the band go, and stiffing them for payment in the process (goodbye my future Crash promos). Abysmal Dawn persevered, landing on legendary Relapse, who may not be into much traditional death metal these days, but the label’s reputation precedes itself. Things were primed for Programmed to Consume to garner the Death Metal Album of the Year nomination before a single note was played.

I bought the album just after it came out at the end of May. Then I had my hand troubles in June and July, so it gave me, almost by default, more time to dig deeper into the album which turned out to be both a blessing and a curse. Without trying to becoming anally analytical I gave it my hardest to lift this album onto a pedestal, but as I did get used to what Programmed to Consume presented, the love affair failed to ensue.

For every step in the right direction, for every further change to the positive, I could come up with a distraction, a negative wrinkle. The band pushed very hard to come up with the album both more brutal and more technical at the same time. Without overdoing it technically, without laying a thousand riffs per song, Abysmal Dawn is quite a bit more intricate on Programmed to Consume. Yet with all of the little innovations, the album fails in the memorability department. Not to say we need a bunch of pop rock songs here, but there are simply not enough hooks planted in thy flesh, not enough tempo changes, the first five tracks proceeding at above the medium, but very similar, speed until slower crusher The Descent arrives. There aren’t enough of those churning nasty melodies, as at the end of Walk the Path of Fire, From Ashes was full of. Not satisfied with simple machine gun riffs and pummeling chugs Abysmal Dawn is big in the solo department. From Ashes was prominent there too, but on Programmed to Consume for every well placed appropriate solo (twisting, gut pulling line in A Remission of Life) we get an out of place element (tubed out Swedish sounding moment on the title track).

Charles Elliot’s vocals have become much improved. It is hard to believe that the man began singing only a few years ago out of necessity. His hollow death vocals are towering, very Edge of Sanity Swano like, while the higher pitched blackened voice provides nice change of pace and emotional shift. It does help too that the vocals have been pushed up higher in the mix. All in all it is a fitting way to present deep social commentary lyrics. Another member who gave it his all is drummer Terry Barajas. The man is percussive and elaborate, not resorting to simple up-tempo raw blasting. The stuff he does with the ride cymbal on Compulsory Resurrection and the weave over hypnotizing riff at the end of The Descent is nothing short of amazing. Then it is even more unfortunate that the drums on Programmed to Consume are muted (especially the snare and bass drums) and devoid of power. Produced and mixed by the same team, surprisingly, the album lacks what it should have been brimming with – energy and muscle.

So there you have it. My candidate for the Strongest Sophomore Effort failed to enthrall with songs I could not put out of my memory, and also could not win it on sound alone (like many death metal albums do with me). At times it felt that Abysmal Dawn is almost there. Flying thrashy Compulsory Resurrection with its darker tremolo breakdown, stretchy bottom end accented The Descent with Charles really pushing his throat limits and the short acoustic instrumental Aeon Aomegas were those shining moments, but overall it is safe to say my expectations weren’t met.

Killing Songs :
Compulsory Resurrection, The Descent, Aeon Aomegas, Walk the Path of Fire I liked more than others
Alex quoted 74 / 100
Other albums by Abysmal Dawn that we have reviewed:
Abysmal Dawn - Phylogenesis reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
Abysmal Dawn - Obsolescence reviewed by Goat and quoted 75 / 100
Abysmal Dawn - From Ashes reviewed by Alex and quoted 85 / 100
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