The Absence - Riders Of The Plague
After hearing their Metal Blade debut some time ago, my expectations for The Absence have been high. With their 2007 sophomore release, Riders of the Plague, Tampa's melo-death fast-risers are not quite a new beast, but they do more than enough to impress with an obvious 2nd gear in play in terms of songwriting and especially in the guitar melodies, where The Absence shine the brightest.
Opener and title track "Riders of the Plague" is a true barnstormer, setting a nice pace while immediatly showing an improved and energenic Absence ripping it this way and that. All of the attention paid to melody, and the rough screaming roar of the vocals still reminds me of bands like Soilwork and Dark Tranquility, and I suppose it is that European melodic death sound they're aiming for. More often than not they hit nice marks, like the epic churner "The Murder" and the over-the-top soloing all over "Merciless" and indeed most of Riders of the Plague. To say these guys aren't capable musicians is just not possible, but beyond the impressive guitarwork they sound just like any other melo-death band we've heard out of Sweden in the past decade.
Like I said, they do little to distinguish themselves but prove themselves capable of playing in the confines of their chosen style. More than capable, they're doing it better than almost any band of this style today. If you're a fan of melodic death metal, or just heavy music in general, you really can't go wrong with The Absence and Riders of the Plague. A definite improvement over their first, and one of this year's more honest metal releases.
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