Abscess

Through the Cracks of Death

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Showing up in the extremity-obsessed death metal climate of the early '00s, Through the Cracks of Death -- with its lack of blastbeats, drum triggers, and technical obsession in general -- sounds positively old-school compared to much of its competition. That's not a bad thing, though, since Abscess does a good job of mixing up its influences and keeping the album varied from one track to the next. Along with the more standard double-time thrashing that dominates much of the album, there are also a number of doom-y slow sections (reminiscent of a more dissonant Black Sabbath or even High on Fire), as well as moments of out-and-out rock (with the requisite barfed-out vocals on top), such as "Mourners Will Burn." The performances are very loose and live-sounding, topped off by plenty of over-the-top guitar solos -- seemingly squeezed into every possible open space -- and growling/shrieking vocal tradeoffs that give the impression that a lot of alcohol was involved in these recording sessions. Fittingly, the production is rough around the edges, but this adds to the overall effect; the drum sound is a little thin and the recording quality overall is a tad muddy, but that is probably intentional. On the whole, this album sounds like it was a lot of fun to make (even the grim subject matter is delivered with a sneering sort of sarcasm), and although it is no grand artistic statement, it is refreshing for its unpolished, uncomplicated, and hard-rocking take on death metal.

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