Album Review: Abiotic – Ikigai (The Artisan Era)

Recently re-emerged technical death metal outfit Abiotic is proud to announce their third full-length, Ikigai. The album will be released on Friday, February 12th, 2021 via The Artisan Era.

Active since 2010, Abiotic sprang to life with an urgent sense of immediacy that saw them signed to Metal Blade Records after their 2011 independent EP, A Universal Plague, was released. The band toured relentlessly from then on while also dropping their 2012 debut album, Symbiosis, and their sophomore album, Casuistry, in 2015.

While going on hiatus does not necessarily mean a group’s best days are behind them, often this rings true, yet Abiotic eagerly buck that trend with Ikigai.

Abiotic guitarist John Matos comments on the development of Ikigai:

The title Ikigai translates from Japanese as ‘a reason for being.’ Each song represents a different approach to that concept. After 5 long years, we decided that as much as we love albums about space and aliens, we wanted to write something that could be felt and that would be relatable, as we all struggle to find our reason to carry on in these trying times.

Lyrically, this album tells so many stories. The cover art depicts a traditional Samurai committing seppuku and as the Samurai is bleeding out, he sees these lives, his future lives. Life as a trans man/woman facing intolerance, as an addict, as an abused child battling mental health, as an owl as its home is destroyed by climate change; an infinite amount of lives struggling, but persevering in their struggle. Tying it all together, he finds his purpose in that moment of connection before he passes away on that field in 16th century Japan.

Abiotic haven’t come back alone, they’ve brought a whole host of guests with them to help make their big return as enormous as possible. From members of Entheos to The Black Dahlia Murder to Archspire and Fallujah, Abiotic have plenty of friends to help bolster the latter portion of the album.

Firstly though, a melodic intro (Natsukashii) bleeds into the title track and a thumping showcase of the band’s technical proficient death metal. Starting off slow; jagged riffs and drumming step the assault up but it’s the scaring vocals and regular tempo shifts that really make this stand out.

Covered the Cold Earth is far less coy about things and just brims with a blazing drum pace, vicious riffing, bass hooks, and disgustingly guttural vocals. Enough to make you sick, even brief moments of levity can’t halt the rising bile caused by such force.

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The first of the many guests make their appearance on Smoldered (Chaney Crabb of Entheos). A raging death metal ditty before The Wrath brings acid rains of heavy destruction pouring down on humanity. Brutality in musical form, Abiotic clearly haven’t missed a step in their time away.

Two members of The Black Dahlia Murder guest on two different songs. Guitarist Brandon Ellis on If I Do Die and vocalist Trevor Strnad on Souvenir of Skin. Both guest super skilful in their respective fields and adding considerable weight to Abiotic’s mammoth-sized sound.

As does bass player Jared Smith of Archspire, guitarist/backing vocalist Scott Carstairs of Fallujah and ex-vocalist/keyboardist Jonathan Carpenter of The Contortionist. The three bringing their own distinctive flavour to Her Opus Mangled, Horadric Cube and Grief Eater, Tea Drinker. If you’re not feeling a bit exhausted through sheer head-banging by this stage, you might want to check your pulse.

Such a beastly return needs a colossal finale and with Gyokusai we certainly get that. A gothic piano is met by one of the album’s heaviest roars and the tone becomes so chaotic without the tempo having been upped too much. Hold on though, that is coming and when it does, it becomes a tornado of sharp riffs and thick hooks. Messy but thrilling.

Welcome back Abiotic, we’ve missed you.

Abiotic – Ikigai Full Track Listing:

1. Natsukashii
2. Ikigai
3. Covered the Cold Earth
4. Smoldered (Feat. Chaney Crabb of Entheos)
5. The Wrath
6. If I Do Die (Feat. Brandon Ellis of The Black Dahlia Murder)
7. Souvenir of Skin (Feat. Trevor Strnad of The Black Dahlia Murder)
8. Her Opus Mangled (Feat. Jared Smith of Archspire)
9. Horadric Cube (Feat. Scott Carstairs of Fallujah)
10. Grief Eater, Tear Drinker (Feat. Jonathan Carpenter ex-The Contortionist)
11. Gyokusai


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  • Carl Fisher

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Abiotic - Ikigai (The Artisan Era)
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