Released: 2015, Metal Blade Records
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
As tech-death goes, it doesn't get much more “tech” than Miami's Abiotic. Which isn't exactly a badge of honor. The quintet's second full-length is loaded with about every indulgence you can imagine, and ends up a rather tiresome, tuneless affair as a result.
Abiotic's 2012 debut, Symbiosis, was spasmodic and frilly, but still quite tolerable. Casuistry, however, takes everything to the nth and will truly test your patience. The band return here with a retooled lineup, featuring new vocalist Travis Bartosek and drummer Brent Phillips, and obviously feel like they've got something to prove. Just what that is, however, remains is a bit of a mystery.
Casuistry is a Frankenstein's monster of deathcore/tech-death/jazz/prog/djent and even black metal thrown together so seemingly haphazardly that the album ends up sounding like a huge assortment of parts with little connective tissue – i.e. actual songcraft. It's certainly well-played – Phillips seems part drummer/part mathematician/part tentacled beast keeping the epileptic tempos (there's even something of a solo on "Molecular Rematerialization") and guitarists John Matos and Matt Mendez show some almost Maiden-esque harmonic flair with their soloing - but so what?
Half the time it seems like everyone's just doing their own damn thing with little care for how, or if, it gels with what anyone else is doing – especially bassist Alex Vazquez, who is all over the place all of the time. The other half, it feels like everyone's just trying to keep up with one another. Bartosek's barf/growl/shriek caterwauling over the top of it all doesn't really help matters either.
There's not a single track here that actually feels like a fully fleshed out, genuine “song” - though “Falling Into Obscurity” at least comes close. As such, Casuistry truly is full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. It's all super-fast and uber-complicated yet, ultimately, rather tedious and unsatisfying. Listen at your peril.