The Concubine - Abaddon (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

The Concubine

Abaddon (2007)


The problem with many metal bands is too often the goal is play fast, play hard, and worry about the structure of songs and how they come together later, if at all. Obviously that's a counter-productive practice that has led to a litany of mediocre metal records this decade and a litany more that the distinction of "mediocre" would be a compliment to.

Such is not the case with New Jersey's The Concubine. Their debut record, Abaddon displays strong musicianship and strong songwriting. The direction isn't always sure, but it's always there, and Abaddon is a well-rounded effort because of it.

An intense listen from beginning to end, the album is chock full of guttural screams, blazing blast beats and torrid riffing. All of those elements are encapsulated in "Regnum Cruoris," a song that refuses to stay fixated at one speed or on one chord progression. It speeds out of the gate with drum and guitar work that become quicker by the second before immediately hitting a thick wall of bass that morphs into a slow pounding groove.

Dave Stahl, the vocal chameleon that he is, sounds positively evil when the instrumentation cuts out towards the end of "Regnum…" and there's nothing but deep, powerful screams coming through the speakers.

As fitting as the vocals are for any of the fervent pace changes the band makes, it's those pace changes themselves, and the tight instrumentation in general that pull the album together. The technicality shown in the cascading rhythms of "Amaranthine" cannot be understated -- even while the band is blazing at full speed, there's dizzyingly quick time changes played beneath it all. The layers of are numerous, but the important thing is they're fluid and it never sounds like The Concubine are overextending themselves, or, as bands often do, play too fast just for the sake of it. Every calculated decision resonates with unwavering ferocity.

Never a dull moment.