We're absolutely living in a chaotic age, but Spanish metal band Absolom introduce some elegant control on this, their debut album. They've been around for a while, having formed as long ago as 2001, but they've split up twice since then and only released a demo until this latest reformation, which knocked out two singles last year and now, after a couple of further personnel adjustments, followed it up with a full length album.
It's emphatic from the very beginning with an urgent opening trio of songs. Band founder Maolo sets things in motion with some reliable drumming to kick off Ascensión, which demonstrates the sheer energy of this band. Relatos de la Humanidad is even better, with a strong guitar solo from Juan Manuel Urbano, who only joined last year when Absolom gave it a third try. He's responsible for much of the elegance in the band's sound but he's ready to get his head down and blister along with the band when it's needed, which it is on the title track. This one starts out as thrash with an angry, almost punk delivery from new fish vocalist Julio Pérez, but it shifts to more subtle ground in the second half, Antonio Ortiz stepping into the spotlight with his bass.
And I realise I've just highlighted all four members of the band, which is never a bad thing and it's a positive sign for them going forward. Let's see if they've found the line-up that'll take them into the future. If there's a change needed, I'd say it's to add a second guitarist, something they've had in the past, because there are points where the density of the sound becomes a little thinner than it probably ought to be. That's in evidence on No Quedarás en el Olvido, a more subtle piece with a fantastic intro on guitar and bass. It ramps up a couple of minutes in but never feels quite as full as it should. A second guitar would do wonders there. Then again, this is as sparse as the album gets. Absolom feel fuller on more up tempo songs and that's what most of this album is.
While there are clear thrash elements on the title track, I'd say that the band play heavy metal as a base and shift into power metal when they feel the need. The purest heavy metal song may well be Oxígeno Infectado, which would feel like something British in the post-NWOBHM eighties if it wasn't so obviously sung in Spanish. A Slash-esque guitar leads into a gallop that's reminiscent of Iron Maiden and only a few backing vocals midway betray it as more modern, given their harsher texture. Again the guitar solo is highlight, though Pérez is a strong focus too, soaring up there in the stars with some capable sustain.
After that, the album remains consistently strong through Incansable, Nuevo Camino and Sueños en la Realidad, all heavy metal songs with varying degrees of power metal for flavour. They're all up tempo without touching thrash and they're all well worth the effort. Suddenly, No Quedarás en el Olvido, meaning You Will Not Be Forgotten, seems a little out of place. I enjoyed it a great deal but it seems to be a step sideways from the tone of the rest of the album.
Well, there's another exception here too and it's a wilder one. Four tracks in, there's a melody and a beat that I recognised immediately and, sure enough, Rasputín is absolutely the Boney M classic from the disco era that Turisas turned into metal in 2007. This isn't as bouncy or as frantic as either version, but it is in Spanish and there's more excellent basswork from Ortiz during the second half. It's a decent version but, like No Quedarás en el Olvido, it feels a little out of place here and might have been better on the B-side of a single, if those even exist any more in the streaming era.
And so this is a solid and enjoyable start to my coverage of 2023 albums, setting off on a good foot. It's a solid and enjoyable start to Absolom's career too, if a little late in arriving. I'm eager to see where they'll go from here and hope it'll to be a lot of live shows and a second album in a couple of years time.