It’s pretty cool when an album that’s six years old can still sound great and be catchy as hell. Abysmal Dawn‘s 2006 debut From Ashes still sounds really good; an example that if you create a good metal album it’ll stand the test of time. I’ll admit that seeing a re-issue so soon in a bands life cycle, but I think it was the right call in this case.
If you listened to From Ashes back in 2006, the thing that you’ll definitely take notice of is the re-mastering of the album and how subtle it is. Instead of massively polishing the album to the point where it sounds like a bunch of machines made it (not that there’s anything wrong with that, after all it works for some bands like Fear Factory), subtle tweaks have been added that help the listening experience feel more satisfying. The foot pedals, for example, have a sharper kick to them when compared to 2006’s release, while the vocals were brought a little more forward in the mix. Overall it sounds great; this is exactly what labels should do when they “remaster” albums; don’t completely screw up the bands “sound”, just augment it and make it better. It’s nice to see that they didn’t just slap some filters on it that makes everything sound LOUDER and call it a day.
As for the album itself? Well it’s still got all those killer riffs you remember. “Impending Doom”, the albums opening instrumental track sets the tone with a mix of slower melodic parts and more straight-ahead pummeling all within the same song giving you a taste of things to come. One thing Abysmal Dawn has always done well is insert a little more technicality than other death metal bands, and even though From Ashes was their first full-length effort things are no different here. They are by no means a “technical death metal” band; but they have a bit more “jump” in their song-writing when compared to other bands in the genre. Songs like “In The Hands Of Death” illustrate this point by rapidly flowing into and out of mini-solos and changing riffs like it’s nothing. “State Of Mind” sounds like a standard death metal track until you pay attention to the quick bursts of call-and-response between the drummer and guitarist near the fake ending in the song (and what follows after that is one of the best riffs on the album). It’s details like this that help make Abysmal Dawn‘s albums just more memorable than other bands in the genre.
From Ashes also features a good amount of dynamics in it’s songs; which helps separate songs from each other and help them, for the most part, avoid becoming too “samey”. The slow down nearly three-quarters into “Solitude’s Demise” really helps set up for the section after it, for example. You’ll rarely become fatigued with the album or reach for the skip button, especially since it’s only a half hour long. It’s nice to see a band that doesn’t label itself as progressive (at least not in 2006, we’ll see what the future holds for Abysmal Dawn) pay attention to something like dynamics both within songs and on the album as a whole. It’s part of what makes From Ashes feel like it flows so effortlessly for the most part.
Abysmal Dawn should be rather proud of itself, after six years From Ashes still holds up remarkably well. There are no gimmick sounds on the album that would make it sound dated, and quite honestly the song-writing is a step above what you would expect a bands first album to consist of. Add to that the added punch the remastering gives it (although to be fair, the original’s production is also perfectly fine) without completely ruining the bands sound and it’s a nice pickup for someone that’s never listened to Abysmal Dawn before. If you already own From Ashes then there really is no need to get the re-issue, but fans of classic death metal with a little added punch should definitely check it out if you haven’t already.