The latest I Am Abomination record, Passion of the Heist II, shows that progressive metal can rise above the jokes thrown at it due to generic bands who use the term djent too frequently. It is equally beautifully melodic while having some head pounding riffs and breakdowns to satisfy hardened metalheads like myself.
Decimation is a slow burn with light guitar action and a radio broadcast playing in the forefront. Soon enough, the build pays off as the instrumentation blows up. It dies down and transitions fluidly into Judas. I have a pet peeve of these interludes not flowing into the next song, and thankfully this is as smooth as butter.
Breakdowns rarely get my attention, but the tasteful execution with Judas makes it a headbanging worthy track. It weirdly suites Phil Druyor’s angelic voice. Throughout the first full songs relentless with minor tweaks in the guitar riffs to give it life and not sound the same.
Coming in with hefty contrast, Ultraterrestrial has an explosive introduction of heavy riffs and aggressive drumming. Then everything seeps into the darkness for an atmospheric spotlight on the singing. I thought I knew what I was getting here, I got smacked with delightful hard-driving segments that swap back and forth with the more moody tone.
I knew Ben Duerr of Shadow of Intent appears later on, which made me beyond happy and I will go on about my love for him and Shadow, but I had my breath taken away from me when I saw Jesse Cash and JT Cavey of Erra popped up on Way of Sorrows. They fit almost too well, as it shows how much Erra and IAA sound similar. Once I got past it, I could appreciate the incredible vocal chemistry between the three singers while they all had time to shine on their own without feeling cramped.
While taking a step down in heaviness without Cavey’s screams, Lamb to the Slaughter brings in thicker bass lines, more substantial percussive power, and breakdowns that will surely break my neck. Although the solo was a highlight, it did showcase how it sounded too similar to some of the melodic riffs that have been featured so far in the album.
Second Death lays out some nasty bass lines with some slick guitar riffs. It cleans up afterward to match the cleaner vocal delivery. I wish it stuck with the initial direction, but it is still a worthy entry on the record.
Another satisfying transition as Second Death slides into The Greatest Sin. The chaotic one on PotH with a more powerful vocal performance compared to the previous tracks while still sticking to the same delicious formula.
Slowly coming from the underworld, Arcadia rises into a brief headbanging introduction before dying down to shine a spotlight on the singing. Even with the changing direction, it is relentlessly rhythmic.
Polyphia members Tim Henson and Scott LePage come in to lend a hand in the instrumentation of Heir to the Throne. Admittedly, I was worried as this is the longest song, which is not even that long, as it may overstay its welcome. Instead, I was greeted with a beautiful piano that transforms into a grand orchestra with a choir that adds to the epic feel of this track. Eventually, it turns into a fairly standard song then ends on a high note as the whole group and their collaborators go wild.
Settling down before the brutal finale, Martyr is a moody, atmospheric track that focuses purely on Druyor’s vocals. It lends itself as a great followup to Heir to the Throne.
Deicide features one of my favorite vocalists from one of my favorite bands, Ben Duerr, from Shadow of Intent. His unbelievably brutal range weirdly compliments Druyor’s high pitched singing in this heavy conclusion.
Passion of the Heist II is 11 tracks of solid music with some that stand out more than others, mostly due to excellent collaborations that were not thrown in for a brief moment that flies by without adding any substance. While every member kills it instrumentally, some of it blends together, so more variety across the record would help. That said, it is a must-listen for metalheads.
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