Review
The Absence
Riders of the Plague

Metal Blade (2007) Kevin Fitzpatrick

The Absence – Riders of the Plague cover artwork
The Absence – Riders of the Plague — Metal Blade, 2007

The Absence hails from Tampa, Florida. Anyone with a sense of history knows that in the late eighties this meant something. Death, Obituary, Deicide, and Morbid Angel all hailed from Florida and significantly helped mold the clay into what we now know as death metal.

The Absence are fully aware of their roots and have set forth to continue the legacy of their forefathers. The Absence is not death metal, however, nor do they purport to be. One listen will tell you that their sound is indeed more west coast thrash than east coast death. The difference between the two, for the uninitiated, is melody. The Absence are very melodious and this what will make them either stand out like a blistered thumb or sink quietly into the background - something I have a hard time believing this band would ever let happen.

I want to like this band more. I know they're the real deal, but there's just too much soloing for my wee (huge) head to wrap itself around. They remind me very much of latter-day Testament, which, as much as I loved that band, was made cool in large part to Chuck Billy's vocals. The Absence have no such vocalist and their inclusion of a cover of Testament's "Into The Pit" makes this glaringly clear. The band has a more extreme look than their music conveys. They all look like they just shambled out of a Norwegian fjord. I guess I was hoping for more. Riders of the Plague

good metal title. War-machine style graphics. The presentation's good but the end result leaves the listener wanting something more

memorable. Don't get me wrong, as you're listening you're very likely to be going, "Holy shit - these guys can shred." And they most certainly can. But when the album is over I think you'd be hard pressed to be able to remember a single riff, bridge, or chorus that doesn't involve the Testament cover.

Which leads me to a final diatribe

I have nothing against bands covering others that have influenced them. Even at their worst, they can have a sweet "Hey grandpa! Look what I can do!" kind of charm that makes them impenetrable to even the most jaded, but I have yet to hear any kind of cover of a west coast thrash band (i.e. Exodus, Death Angel, Vio-Lence, Testament) that didn't fail miserably in comparison to the original. There was such a regional sound and vibe to it all that hasn't been recreated since its zenith of the mid-to-late eighties. So all you burgeoning young bands out there, it's a sweet gesture, but next time just thank 'em in the liner notes.

The Absence – Riders of the Plague cover artwork
The Absence – Riders of the Plague — Metal Blade, 2007

Related news

The Absence cover Bad Religion

Posted in Bands on May 18, 2019

Recently-posted album reviews

Travoltas

Back To The City
White Russian Records (2021)

Somehow it seems to me that Travoltas released Until We Hit The Shore only last year or perhaps the year before. But nooooo, it’s been four years already. That record is still on heavy rotation here, especially when the weather is sunny and the temperature is high (but not too hot). So I was so happy to hear a new EP by … Read more

Bootlicker

Self-Titled
Neon Waste, Static Shock Records (2021)

Rough and tough d-beat, oi-influenced punk with a boot on the cover. If you follow the scene you probably already have a sense of what Bootlicker sounds like based on that alone. Released on Neon Waste (USA/Canada) and Static Shock (UK), this is Discharge-influenced punk that pulls no punches. It’s angry, shouty, and aggressive as all get-out with memorable lyrics … Read more

Stella Research Committee

A Proposed Method for Determining Sanding Fitness
Independent (2021)

Labels like Amphetamine Reptile and Skin Graft Records and the “now wave” and noise rock avalanche they launched has served as an immense source of inspiration for a myriad of bands. Listening to Stella Research Committee’s fifth LP, they do not only seem to be overly familiar with the output of the aforementioned label rosters, but have channelled those influences … Read more