As we say goodbye to 2020 which was one of the hardest times in history, that didn’t stop the music scene for creating such wonderful albums to enjoy on our spare time. That being said, I like to present to you not only my first official album review for 2021, but a band who I’m extremely excited to see a huge return being Florida’s Abiotic and their first full-length in over six years with 2021’s The Artisan Era release of Ikigai and is the follow up to 2015’s Casuistry. Musically, Abiotic is a band who’s musical compositions, craftsmanship and lyrical content is extremely flawless which many bands in the technical death metal scene seem to rely on playing faster tempos, melodies and leads but with Abiotic, their soundscapes, inspiration to create luxurious music and detail these musicians are capable of doing is a remarkable.
Ikigai is a concept album about Japanese culture which is referring to a Samurai who’s life was diminished, horrifying and learning to understand the nature and philosophy for what it stood for. I won’t go further into the lyrical content and its contexts, but rest assure this album marked a huge return to form if you loved their previous work but with Ikigai, this is a complete turnaround for the band and it worked perfectly than I would expected. This release has elements of deathcore, technical death metal, jazz arrangements from the instrumental work and very little hints of progressive undertones which makes the release fresh, dynamic and organic sounding which I give them massive round of applause for expanding their horizons and using eastern style components but maintaining that traditional, modernized and well structured sound that I love from this band.
This release also features guest list spots from Trevor Strnad from The Black Dahlia Murder who’s contributing his vocals on the track Souvenir of Skin to Jared Smith doing a killer bass solo for the song Her Opus Mangled and Chaney Crabb from Entheos doing her contributions for the song Smoldered which is personally one of my favorite and most well produced tracks on the album because of the pure emotion and brilliancy this song captures is realistic and astonishing. But perhaps the biggest highlight on Ikigai is not only this release is more in the veins of technical death metal with some deathcore flairs added to the mix, but every member from Abiotic has studied extremely hard learning their theories and homework from Casuistry gives it a nice atmospheric touch which gives the vocals and instruments a esoteric, commendable and pure intensity which gives the songs a nice variation where you feel each track gives consistency and deliverance but with this album, they’ve nailed it out of the park. Ikigai is the best Abiotic album to date from a lyrical, musical and technical standpoint these Floridan’s have executed and perfected their craft and rest assure this will be one of the most talked about releases in 2021.
Overall Score: 9.5/10
Review by Jake Butler