Absent of Light
As ever, unsigned metal releases are something of a roulette for us reviewers. The majority of them either fizzle into anonymity or blow up in your face like a flaming poo bag, but once in a while an independently-produced album will pass through our hallowed queue that actually bears some listening. Absent of Light, the full-length debut from Boston’s Discreate, is one such album. Though this disc is hardly earth-shattering, it’s a well-executed example of melodic modernist thrash that will appeal to fans of acts like Misery Inc. and Amaran, and maybe even a few power/thrash devotees as well.
Of all the above comparisons, last year’s excellent debut from Misery Inc. is the closest. Though sans the massive penchant for hooky choruses and death metal influence, Absent of Light is a similar blend of catchy, technical guitar work and soaring clean vocals. Though Kenny Benda isn’t quite a match for the vocal duo of Niko Mankinen and Jules Naveri, he provides a fairly distinctive and listenable lead performance here. Sounding like some odd lovechild of a power metal vocalist and Daryl Palumbo, Benda delivers a range of vocal leads that rarely lock into a truly addictive vocal hook but are emotive and strong enough to satisfy, if not impress. Backing this up are the active and triplet-heavy guitars of Alex Baldman and Jon Morency (who also recorded a pretty solid drum performance on the album). Their riffwork is the clear and dominant centerpiece to Absent of Light. Though the songs vary little in terms of mood, each features an arsenal of busy, aggressive guitar riffs; “The Deadline” even features an intro moment that almost sounds like something off a Morbid Angel album. Topping off the deal is a bright, present production that rightly highlights the punchy, trebly guitars without burying anything else (except the bass…as usual).
Though I likely won’t return to Absent of Light due to my lack of great interest in the style at hand, I certainly concede that it is a taut chunk of groovy, melodic thrash metal. Though not a young band (at least one of these songs was written at least seven years ago), these guys put on a good show here, and they’ve got a good deal of potential if they can stabilize their revolving-door lineup.