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Absent/Minded : Alight

Absent/Minded's third full-length is a Sludge/Doom/Post-Metal work of substantial depth and substance.

' Alight' sees Germany’s Absent/Minded return with their third full length album and build significantly on the eclectic range of influences evident on 2013’s 'Earthtone', which was an interesting and thoughtful combination of Doom, Sludge and Post-metal elements. All of those influences are revisited and developed more fully during the brooding, melancholy trip of 'Alight'.

From its opening down-tuned, distorted seconds, 'Alight' goes straight for the jugular, constantly changing direction, attacking the senses from different angles like a prize-fighter raining blows to the head and body of his dazed opponent. Brutal, malevolent Sludge riffs and guttural, growled vocals give way to sparse, plaintive Post-metal interludes before the bludgeoning assault recommences with renewed vigour.

As the album progresses, it becomes clear that the band have expanded their boundaries, embraced their disparate influences, and combined them to form a distinctive, cerebral sound; one they’ve been steadily building towards with each release. It’s a record that is heavier and yet more subtle than its predecessors with passages of intense, pounding Doom, frenetic, filth-encrusted sludge, interspersed with ethereal post-metal passages and clean vocals.

An array of voice samples are used throughout the album with interesting, sometimes unsettling effect. Instrumental track 'Stargazin’' features interview and news footage clips relating to the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster of 1986, cleverly arranged over a hypnotic arpeggiated riff that builds in intensity until the sound of the fateful explosion is heard, while on 'So Dark, the Con of Man', the voice of astrophysicist Carl Sagan can be heard appealing for tolerance, emphasising the preciousness of human life, given that “in a hundred billion galaxies, you will not find another”. Thought-provoking stuff, and apt in times of increasing suspicion and intolerance.

Reflective and philosophical 'Alight' may be at times, but there is brutal Doom/Sludge heaviness in abundance, with 'Skies of No Return' perhaps the album’s most ferocious peak; its slow-burning, pensive post-metal beginning building remorselessly in intensity until vocalist Stevie bellows “I’ll take you to the darkest night”, and boy does he mean it. A thunderous riff is unleashed amidst frenetic, pounding drums and savage, growled vocals dredged from the darkest sludge-filled depths of his soul.

Sonically, despite the eclectic range of influences, vocal styles and samples, the album succeeds admirably: it’s clean where it should be, letting ethereal Post-metal sparsity bring reflection amidst the rage, and wading through thick distortion when aggression takes over. Every instrument and vocal is given room to develop in what is a thoughtful and darkly eclectic album that shows a band finding its identity. A work of substantial depth and substance that comes highly recommended.

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Reviewer's rating: 9/10


Tracklist :
1. Light Remains
2. Stargazin'
3. Clouds
4. Arrivers
5. Skies of No Return
6. So Dark, the Con of Man

Duration : Approx. 46 minutes

Visit the Absent/Minded bandpage.

Reviewed on 2016-02-02 by Nick Harkins
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