Released: 2017, Prosthetic Records
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
London's Abhorrent Decimation found themselves in a bit of a ruckus after their debut full-length was issued in late 2015 – but not for the usual reasons. And, in fact it was nothing of their doing. Instead, the track listing from Miasmic Mutation was accidentally printed on a CD from octogenarian British comic Bernie Clifton, who's calling card is riding a toy yellow ostrich.
Apparently he wasn't too amused when copies of the album of ballads he dedicated to his late wife shipped with tunes like “Eternal Repulsion,” “Odious” and “Souls of Sedation” listed on the back. Can't really say as I'd blame him.
Suffice it to say, Abhorrent Decimation are no laughing matter – as you could probably surmise from their name alone. There's definitely no yellow ostriches or buffoonery – or ballads, for that matter - where these guys are concerned. Indeed, the band's rather ambitious second album is a conceptual work based on “The Pardoner,” a character from English poet Geoffrey Chaucer’s "The Canterbury Tales” who feeds his own greed by preying on the avarice of others.
And while much of the narrative subtleties are lost amid frontman Ashley Scott's flamethrowing vocal histrionics and his bandmates' death metal/deathcore bludgeon, it's still pretty inspired source material that steers well clear of the usual tropes. Even so, it provides an apt metaphor for this day and age.
The music is certainly modern – aside from the classically inspired intros to the opener "Soothsayer" and the outros to "Heretic Sacrifice" and the mammoth title track that closes things out – echoing the symphonic majesty of Fleshgod Apocalypse and the brutish belligerence of The Acacia Strain. Its complexity and dexterity are contrasted by its gut-punch brutality, which at times can be a bit overbearing.
The album's heavy-handed production doesn't help in that regard. This is one super-loud album, with everything pushed to the max, especially Scott's vocals. Given the literate theme, and the underlying message or lesson of the tale, the songs deserve a better than the jet-engine treatment they are given here.
The Pardoner still makes for a compelling listen, given its musical yin-and-yang - and often genuinely imposing heaviosity - and it unusual, heady lyrical conceit. But a bit less cacophony might have let more – indeed any - of the story's intrigue and colorful language shine through. Otherwise, what's the point?