Abominant – Napalm Reign

Band – Abominant

Album – Napalm Reign

Country of Origin – USA

Genre – Death Metal (mostly)

Release Date – July 29th, 2016

Label – Deathgasm Records

Author – Hayduke X

By now, regular readers will be used to my usual caveat when reviewing a band from this genre, which is that I don’t like death metal.  As I’m sure you can tell, there are a ton of exceptions.  What I really don’t like is the monotonous growl present in too much of the music combined with unimaginative songwriting, all for the purpose of “being brutal.”  I’m firmly convinced that you can be both brutal and imaginative in your composition, pacing, and transitions.  I’m not big on showy guitar solos, but that doesn’t mean that you have to use your guitar lines merely as a club with which to bludgeon your listeners.  Let me present you with another exhibit in the case of “How to Make Excellent Death Metal.”  I present to you the eleventh album by underground death dealers Abominant.

When I first plugged my headphones into Napalm Reign, I was prepared to be sorely disappointed…yet again.  My initial reaction was, “Here’s another cookie cutter death metal band.  There’s the death growl.  There’s the brutal guitar line.  Blah, blah, blah, I’ve heard it before.”  Thankfully I have made a rule for myself that everything gets a minimum of one full listen and I (mostly) stick to it.  Yes the vocals, by Mike Barnes, are generally a growl, but there is enough change in intonation, enough hesitation and intricate pacing, that they are not just a monotonous blur.  They are actually a prime example of how to do death vocals right!  The guitars ARE brutal.  Without a doubt!  They are also ripping, shredding machines.  The guitar work, by Timmie Ball, is dark and intricate, with a real sense of menace.  The bludgeoning bass lines, by Mike May, push the pace like the tides after a storm.  Jim Higgins keeps the rhythm steady, jumping into a fury of blasting when that tide comes back in.

All of the above applies to most of the album.  There are surprises here though.  The first came in the form of Iron Clad, the first track on the album.  Iron Clad goes from the death metal of Reborn Through Bloodshed and jumps into pure power metal.  Barnes’ suddenly clean vocals soar and dive throughout the track which thunders forward at the pace of a herd of wild mustangs.  As Evil Rears Its Head starts with some ominous tremolo picking and features touches of blackening throughout.  The album ends with Scream in the Night, another power metal manifesto.  “You have to fight for your lives/When you hear the scream in the night.”

The bottom line is that Napalm Reign is an excellent album by a veteran and accomplished group of musicians.  The whole album exhibits a rawness that speaks not of a lack of ability, but a purposeful will to play raw, aggressive music.  On the skeleton of death metal (fused to a skeleton of power metal, I suppose), Abominant have fleshed out an intriguing, ominous, brutal, and mesmerizing sound which demands repeat listens.  In the space of the roughly 42 minutes it takes for this album to play out, I went from disbeliever to avid fan.

I can’t end the review without some mention of the album artwork.  I don’t know the artist or the medium, but I want to give them a shout-out for creating such an interesting, evil looking piece of art.

Recommendation:  Abominant is not afraid to do things their own way and you shouldn’t be either.  Feel free to walk, bike, crawl, cartwheel, teleport, drive, or whatever else you can come up with.  Just get yourself to your local independent retailer and tell them you need this album.

Rating:  4/5