EP Review: Nightmare Frontier by Abysmal Dawn (Season of Mist)

Los Angeles death metal titans Abysmal Dawn will be releasing a new Bloodborne inspired EP, ‘Nightmare Frontier,’ on February 4, 2022 via Season of Mist.

Abysmal Dawn exploded back onto the scene in 2020 after a 6 year gap with a new studio album called Phylogenesis. To say it was well received would be a massive understatement. It’s a banger. And now, with only a short wait, we get more music from the death metal titans in Nightmare Frontier. The 4 piece are on top from right now so this is another exciting listen. Abysmal Dawn are Charles Elliott on guitars and vocals, Eliseo Garcia on bass and additional vocals, James Coppolino on drums and Vito Petroni on guitars.

Nightmare Frontier by Abysmal Dawn band
Photo credit: @phototerco

Nightmare Frontier features 4 tracks though just the one new original recording. That is the first song, A Nightmare Slain, and for all lovers of video games, rejoice, as this song is written and inspired by the Bloodborne action role playing games as explained by frontman, Charles Elliott:

“The music for this track was recorded for ‘Phylogenesis,’ but we left it off the record. We thought it was a great song but we felt it didn’t quite fit into the flow of that album. The music shows a bit more of a slightly progressive and melodic side of the band, which we may explore more in the future. The lyrics were written during the pandemic and are inspired by the lore of the video game ‘Bloodborne. Now, we have a lot of songs filled with social commentary and introspective lyrics.

When it came time to write the words for this one, I don’t think I could bring myself to focus any more on the misery or subjugation that we live in our day to day lives. Who needs another song of ‘COVID’ drivel or divisive politics at this point? Hopefully we can all agree on what I discovered while I was trapped at home for over a year; ‘Bloodborne’ is one of the greatest video games ever made. ‘Animal Crossing’ and ‘Mario Party’ fans should definitely check it out, along with the rest of the ‘soulsborne’ genre for a stress free good time… We hope you enjoy our song inspired by one of the most metal games ever made. Enjoy and see you on tour!”

Alongside A Nightmare Slain, we also get three other tracks. One is Blacken the sky and is a re-recording of their 2006 demo. The other two are covers. One of those is Behind Space, a cover of In Flames track from their The Jester Race album, The other is Bewitched, a cover of the Candlemass song from their album Nightfall. We also get some pretty epic cover art courtesy of Pär Olofsson.

So the main focus of Nightmare Frontier is obviously A Nightmare Slain. I imagine this song being maybe more impactful even than it is if you are a fan, or in the know around Bloodborne. I’m not, so to me I am just checking out what is hopefully a banging track and EP.

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Abysmal Dawn really do know how to do death metal. In some ways, musically and vocally they are exactly what you expect from a death metal band, but just of the very highest calibre. A Nightmare Slain  rips through in a flurry of vicious drum blasts and furious riffs. The vocals are throat ripping and delightfully vicious with the mix of tones being especially welcome. The lead guitar work is immaculate adding little moments to the darkest riffing and then stealing the show with powerful solos. It’s hard. Definitely heavy and absolutely brilliant. Then, to top it off and show that Abysmal Dawn are so much more than just a death metal band, we end the track with a fading guitar line and an orchestral arrangement by Craig Peters (Destroying the Devoid, Deeds of Flesh).

Blacken the Sky is new to me too despite being an early demo. I love it. The thick and murky chug of guitars brings a bit of groove to the heaviness with transitions from the dark riffing into quicker sections that really get your neck muscles working. Another fiery solo elevates preceding’s and the vocals exude power and confidence. It definitely has an old school death metal feel to it, just with a sweet modern production.

Both covers are really listenable too with Behind Space in particular being a ripper – arguably better or at least on par with the original to be honest. Behind Space is a great In Flames song but this just becomes a bit meatier, a bit more foreboding in Abysmal Dawn’s hands with extra emphasis on the gutturals and the guitar tones adding an additional layer of darkness.

Bewitched, at nearly 7 minute song is the bulk of Nightmare Frontier and I guess the expectation is that Abysmal Dawn take the Candlemass track and death it up. But they don’t, not really. It’s almost a like for like cover with Charles Elliott also hitting us with those doomy clean vocal tones. Change ups come in some very clever growled backing vocals and obviously we have the much more modern sounding instrumentation. The Abysmal Dawn vocals are often at a lower key than the original. The same for the music, and the solo which is slowed down just a touch to make it sound a bit thicker and heavier than the original. It’s a good cover with great respect paid towards the original but subtle touches to make it sound their own.

Nightmare Frontier is another top quality release from the Abysmal Dawn, again backing up that “death metal titan” title. The original song, A Nightmare Slain is an absolute banger. Blacken the Sky is a beats and the two covers are exciting sounding like Abysmal Dawn tracks, if you don’t know the originals, or exciting and respectful covers if you do. The band obviously have a lot to offer and as long as they can keep the output regular and of this sort of quality, these guys will be the death metal band on everyone’s lips, not just their loyal fanbase. Nightmare Frontier is refreshingly uncomplicated. This is just top of the range death metal delivered with quality and just a few flourishes to make them stand out even further from the pack.

 Preorder your copy of Nightmare Frontier from Season of Mist here or presave it for your usual streaming platform, here.

Abysmal Dawn Links




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  • Brendan Fisher

    Owner/Editor/Writer/YouTuber - Heavy Metal and reading, two things I have always loved so they are the two areas you will find most of my reviews. Post apocalyptic is my jam and I always have a book on the go and have for decades now. From a metal perspective, age has softened my inadequacies and I now operate with an open mind, loving many bands from many sub genres but having a particular admiration for the UK underground scene. In my other time, when not focused on Dad duties and work, I try to support the craft beer movement by drinking as much of it as I can and you will also find me out on the streets, walking. I love walking, I love exploring new places and snapping nature photos as I go.

Nightmare Frontier by Abysmal Dawn (Season of Mist)
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