California-based death metal band Abysmal Dawn were decent but unmemorable on their Relapse Records debut (and second album overall), 2008's Programmed to Consume. The vocals were guttural, the riffs downtuned and savage, the guitar solos full of squeals and squiggly riffs, the drumming complex but battering away with the precision of an atomic clock-powered jackhammer. This follow-up doesn't break much new ground, though there are some interesting choices, like the semi-orchestral intro track, "The Age of Ruin," which makes promises of drama and Wagnerian power that the songs themselves don't totally keep, or the percussive interstitial track "Our Primitive Nature." Fortunately, some of these songs are quite, well, catchy isn't exactly the word; this is still death metal, after all. But "In Service of Time" has ear-tugging hints of melody and a groove that'll make the listener bounce on the balls of his or her feet, and the vocals shift back and forth between the usual growls and some slightly higher-register screeching that's not quite a black metal shriek and approaches actual singing. "Rapture Renowned" has a Dimmu Borgir-like chorus, and a nice clean guitar break leading into a solo that builds slowly from long notes to tasteful shredding and back down again; it's really well-constructed, and is a sign of the band's overall evolution. They're still a death metal band and not making any attempts to be anything else, but fans of the genre may well raise their opinion of Abysmal Dawn after hearing this ambitious third effort.
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AllMusic Review by Phil Freeman