After almost 2 and a half years of delays, Singapore death metal band Absence of the Sacred finally releases their long-awaited third full length album, Come Hither O Herald of Death
. The band's previous outputs Atrocities That Birthed Abominations
and Era of the Apostate
both showed different musical styles, with the debut leaning more towards a raw, old-school death metal sound and the sophomore album being one with more melodic qualities. It leaves fans of the band wondering then what surprises Absence of the Sacred has packed in with their third album, Come Hither O Herald of Death
: will it be a continuation of the previous style, or will this album mark yet another evolution of Absence of the Sacred's sound?
Between the release of Atrocities... and Era of the Apostate
though, the band released a limited promo in 2007, containing the track Dawn
of a Dead Aeon
, which the band has filmed a music video for, and the song displays a striking difference from the styles that were presented on either of the first two albums. So fans of Dawn
of a Dead Aeon
, rejoice, for Come Hither O Herald of Death
sees Absence of the Sacred expanding on the style of that song. This is evident right from opening track Enslaved Fire
, and the shift in style is immediately obvious. Mike's vocals are a welcome presence once the album begins, for fans of the band who have been starving for new Absence of the Sacred material since almost 4 years ago, and his vocals have never sounded better than this, as he growls out the lyrics with burning rage.
The growth in songwriting and musicianship of the band is also obvious with the evolution of the musical style of the band. The songs on the album take on an almost progressive touch to them, with each song sounding almost different from each other, and songs themselves containing various elements and styles in each of them. The increased technicality in the playing of the music is evident not only through the at times Demilich
-inspired guitar riffs of axe-wielding duo Mike Priest and Darren such as those on Quandary of Flesh
and Veneration Unorthodox
, but also through the drumming of guest drummer Kevin Talley as well, keeping up with the odd time signatures of the music. Darren also doesn't disappoint, often unleashing face-ripping guitar solos that still manage to retain that sense of melody that is characteristic of past Absence of the Sacred releases. Bassist Mike K. also gets to show off his technical abilities, with the numerous sweet bass spots that are littered throughout the album like those on Oracle
and The Necropolitan, as if being one of the rhythmic backbones of the band were not a difficult enough task in and of itself, with complex riffs to follow like those on the intro of Perpetual Decline
The surprising thing on Come Hither O Herald of Death
is that despite all the technical wankery that is going above, the band manages to retain some sense of harmony and melody throughout the album, with most of the songs containing melodic sections that at times bother on the emotional, such as on Veneration Unorthodox
, displaying the more human side of this machine-like entity. This is even more apparent on softer moments on the album like those on Perpetual Decline
of a Dead Aeon
. The band has also managed to incorporate elements from other genres in their songwriting as well, such as the almost jazz-sounding section towards the end of The Necropolitan and this keeps the listeners constantly surprised, not knowing what to really expect as the album progresses.
that though, there are some gripes though that have slightly marred the experience of the album. While it is understood that the band attempts to expand their musical style through the fusion of both technical and melodic elements, there are some awkward moments, one example being the piano that is present on Enslaved Fire
. This is not to say that the playing is bad in itself, but rather it sounding out of place from all the other stuff going on at the same time and felt rather unnecessary. The album also contains a new version of the 2007 track, Dawn
of a Dead Aeon
, executed with the "new" playing style of the band members, and though this sounds more polished compared to the previous version, I personally preferred the somewhat raw touch on the original 2007 version. The band's shift to more technical territories could easily alienate fans of the band who have had more affinity with the more melodic and more straightforward past material of the band, but after numerous listens, Come Hither O Herald of Death
could possibly start growing on the listener.