Review: Abrams - In The Dark
Denver rock trio Abrams had been trudging along since 2013 with moderate success. Having an EP and three full lengths under their belts, they could've already walked away and considered the band a triumph. Instead, guitarist/vocalist Zach Amster, bassist/vocalist Taylor Iversen and drummer Ryan DeWitt, recruited former Call Of The Void guitarist Patrick Alberts and took a righteous shit on everything they've done so far.
In The Dark starts off with a pace setting drumbeat before the crunchiest guitars join in on lead off track "Like Hell". A really corny metaphor about taking your first steps outside onto a fresh coat of snow covered by a thin sheet of ice, would work great here. Why? Because my expectations of Abrams, solely based on their location and record label, Small Stone Recordings, was something fuzzier and stonerier. The fuzz happens, but it's more like dissonance drenched rock and roll, than desert jams inspired by plants and animals. The opener is a bit deceiving as Abrams never gnash their teeth again on the album.
"Death Tripper" and "Body Pillow" remind of an expansive take on the Foo Fighters playing Hum covers. The 10,000 feet aerial view of In The Dark is sprawling, but comfortably desolate. Absent are the tempting extras and production tricks most bands might over indulge with. Producer, engineer, and collaborator Dave Otero of Flatline Audio was clearly the right choice to oversee the record.
Despite the atmospherics and aforementioned dissonance, there are still enough riffs and vocal hooks for any fan of rock. There's the "mid-western-emo" lead kicking off "Fever Dream" that provides a nice dash of spice on a record that's otherwise rather lineal. Nothing really seems to come out of left field as Abrams rumbles the listener into comfort, like listening to Torche on a cross country flight.
Perhaps the vocals could use more punch, but that may have upset the balance. Amster and Iversen's vocals sometimes blend into the mix with the misty quality of a third guitar. There is little to complain about here.
There's a "throwback" aspect to the songwriting on In The Dark reminiscent of the 90's fringe alternative acts that didn't quite fit in the grunge or indie subgenres. The space that Failure or Quicksand lived in. Imagine Elephant Tree taking a vacation from prog. Something like that. Am I making sense?