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From mastermind Connor McNamee, who plays guitars and does clean vocals in his band, In Absence is a new take on the brand of progressive death metal prefaced by acts such as Fallujah and the aforementioned Black Crown Initiate. Apparently, he is also good friends with the members of the latter, Nick Shaw producing and playing bass on the album, as well as programming drums for it, and Andy Thomas contributing a guitar solo. On the record also is Jerry Martin, from Alustrium, on harsh vocals, and another guitar solo from Ethan McKenna. Connor certainly succeeds in bringing to the table his personal riffing style as is most noticeable in the song “In Absence of Air”. That makes this project sound unique enough to stand on its own and not suffer from comparisons, but instead profit from them.
What is striking on first listen is the power within the clean vocals, a thing rather scarce nowadays, with singers like Ashe O’Hara, on Tesseract’s Altered State, staying for the most part in falsetto or adopting a softer style, and Michael Lessard, from Last Chance to Reason and The Contortionist. He reminds me more of Dan Tompkins from his Skyharbor days and, at times, Gabriel Riccio from The Gabriel Construct (especially on Threat of a Terrible Storm); in short, a strong baritone voice. Jerry, on harsh vocals, deliver with intensity and constancy his lines, on the same level of quality that we can find on his own band’s records. The instrumental work is not to overlook either. The guitars are tight and crisp, and the drum programming is well done, even though it is at times obviously fake. One of the two guitar solos on “The Ecstasy of Dreams” is improvised and heartfelt, and is one of the best solos I’ve heard recently.
In the end, Minarchist is a name to keep your eyes on. With In Absence, they certainly will become a well-known band. Despite not being flawless, it’s a very strong debut album. The vocals on Abandon sound a little off, the drums are a little jagged in some places, and there is a somewhat disappointing lack of experimentation and progressive ideas – that’s maybe just me, though -, but all this is overwhelmed by the positive aspects of the album: professional production, great head-banging riffs, sick guitar solos, and overall display of talent from all the musicians. It truly deserves that you give it a listen, you’ll most likely appreciate this project very much.
A promo copy of the album was provided for this review.
1. In Absence of Air – 8:38
2. Our Rose Garden – 4:54
3. Threat of a Terrible Storm – 8:14
4. Burn Down the Sky – 6:15
5. Abandon – 6:05
6. The Ecstasy of Dreams – 6:20
7. In Absence of Fear – 7:17
Total running time: 47:43
Release date: 2016/05/27
Filetype listened to: MP3
Bitrate: 320 kbps CBR
Sampling frequency: 44,100 Hz, 2 channels