Thursday 11 February 2021

Abiotic - Ikigai

Labels: The Artisan Era

Formats: Vinyl/CD/Digital

Release Date: 12 Feb 2021


1. Natsukashii

2. Ikigai

3. Covered The Cold Earth

4. Smoldered

5. The Wrath

6. If I Do Die

7. Souvenir Of Skin

8. Her Opus Mangled

9. The Horadric Cube

10. Grief Eater, Tear Drinker

11. Gyokusai

I feel like I'm cutting it a but fine with this review, as Abiotic's new album Ikigai is due for official release on Friday. I've never really been one for deadlines though, so I guess I'm more on top of things right now than I thought!. This is the band's third full-length and the Floridian tech/prog death metallers have assembled a who's who from the death metal genre as guests on here. They include Chaney Crabb of Entheos on 'Smoldered', Brandon Ellis and Trevor Strnad of The Black Dahlia Murder on 'If I Do Die' and 'Souvenir Of Skin' respectively, Jared Smith of Archspire on 'Her Opus Mangled', Scott Carstairs of Fallujah on 'The Horadric Cube' and Jonathan Carpenter, previously of The Contortionist) on 'Grief Eater, Tear Drinker'. Of course, the members of Abiotic are not new to genre either, having spent part for their careers in Vale Of Pnath, Scale The Summit and Pathogenic amongst other bands.

Ikigai is an concept album influenced by Japanese culture that clocks in at fifty minutes, so there’s a lot to enjoy here. The album begins with the gentle intro ‘Natsukashii’, with it’s pan-pipe/flute-style melodies. The title song ‘Ikigai’ follows it with a mixture of traditional instrumental snippets and progressive death metal brutality, underpinned by more melody. It’s certainly experimental and Abiotic takes you on a journey through many layers of their collective song-writing and performing abilities. Stop/start in places but also wildly crushing at the same time.

The breadths of musicality that flow through the album, even at this early stage is crazy. ‘Covered The Cold Earth’ is both super heavy and orchestral at the same time, while featuring more than a hint of harsh, cold industrial tones within the percussion at times. Overall, it’s definitely more than fair to say that this is virtuosic. ‘Smoldered’ is the first song to welcome a guest, in the form of Chaney Crabb of Entheos, who provides vocals. They add extra depth to Abiotic’s sound here, with a great mix of both rasping screams and low growls smashing together from different ends of the extreme spectrum. It’s also where that percussive majesty reigns supreme too. So impressive!

Aside from the intro, everything on Ikigai stretches to over four to five minutes in length and to be honest, it’s the perfect length for these songs. Enough so that you get a true flavour of their sound if you haven’t heard Abiotic before. ‘The Wrath’ takes deathcore and plants it’s best parts deep within a truly carnage inducing tech-death song, that features the fastest kick-drumming I’ve ever heard this side of a drum machine.  Abiotic’s own progressive madness is joined on ‘If I Do Die’ by Brandon Ellis of The Black Dahlia Murder. His unmistakable lead work provides an extra edge to the Voivod-esque music that makes up the crossing point of this album. 

As if one member of TBDM wasn’t enough, ‘Souvenir Of Skin’ sees an appearance from Trevor Strnad. Now, it would be easy for all of these guests to overpower the impact of Ikigai, yet it’s kept on a tight leash thanks to even tighter musicianship. That’s the main thing you’ll take away from this entire album and it’s nowhere near over yet!. I like nothing more than a proper bass-heavy track and ‘Her Opus Mangled’ is one such beast. This time though it’s not the heavy rumble that’s drawing me in but the utterly bewildering tone of Archspire’s Jared Smith, who adds some awesomely melodic bass work to what is also another frighteningly strong song. Technicality aplenty here and no room for wandering attention spans either.

Talking of stuff that’s frightening, the percussion once again really takes on a form of it’s own during ‘The Horadric Cube’. I still can’t fathom how all of these musicians can come together and create something so enthralling and cohesive, while seemingly all being the equal of the other. There’s also a solo from Fallujah’s Scott Carstairs, which is the icing on the cake. Penultimate song ‘Grief Eater, Tear Drinker’ presents itself in a different way, this time with more vocal melody as well as instrumental melody, thanks to an appearance from ex-The Contortionist vocalist Jonathan Carpenter, whose clean vocals are such a great fit for the overall feel of the song. As is now familiar on Ikigai, Abiotic doesn’t take it easy at all and continues to lay the progressiveness on hard, which is no bad thing at all. 

It feeds directly into closer ‘Gyokusai’ and in doing so goes from serene to menacing, as far as atmosphere is concerned. The pace is slowed down at first, though that is somewhat of an illusion and what follows is just a sharp and explosive and when this album began. Ikigai is best described as a journey. One that’s more like a rollercoaster than a gentle cruise. It’s the first time I’ve listened to Abiotic properly and modern technical death metal now has a new pantheon to reach here.

Three songs are available for streaming prior to tomorrow's release below:-

You can still pre-order Ikigai on all three formats via Abiotic's bandcamp page above.

You can also buy copies from The Artisan Era here -

Abiotic -

The Artisan Era -

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