Absence Riders of the Plague

Having established themselves as an above-average At the Gates clone with their debut, the Absence have clearly set out to up the ante. Riders of the Plague is one of the more memorable melodic death offerings of the last couple of years and holds its own stacked up against many of the genre’s original torchbearers. The inclusion of weightier grooves and more tempo variation have allowed the songs greater breathing room, with an increased focus on memorable hooks and less outright thrashing, although the album comes across more confident and focused as a result. Shades of mid-period Hypocrisy show up during some of the more epic moments and a spot-on Testament cover ("Into the Pit”) sees the band acknowledging their roots without veering into "retro” territory. In today’s climate of frantic genre fusion it’s not very often straight, unflinching metal records come out that don’t either concede heavily to the trends or come across as self-consciously retro. Riders falls into neither category and thus kicks a lot of ass. (Metal Blade)