THE ABSENCE – Returning From The Abyss
May 1, 2018, a year ago
“If there is a fan of melodic death metal still; if they are alive on this earth then this is for everybody,” enthuses drummer Jeramie Kling about The Absence’s long-awaited new album A Gift For The Obsessed, released in March through M-Theory Audio.
The Floridians have sitting on this record for a while now and it’s like a huge burden off their shoulders to have their first new album since 2010’s Enemy Unbound. “We’ve been working on this for about 2 years”, explains Kling, “and a big part of it felt like Chinese Democracy (the Guns N’ Roses album that took 14 years to come out), like ‘my God, we’re never going to get this thing out.’ It just finally came to fruition and it feels great. It feels like a purging because we have been sitting on it and for it to finally come out is incredible. We already have enough material for another record.”
All points of A Gift For The Obsessed were carefully planned to make one cohesive album, and also to pummel the listener with ferocious tracks. “This has elements of Carcass, this has elements of At The Gates, this has elements of Dimension Zero, this has elements of Carnal Forge, In Flames, insert, insert whoever you think here and it’s a juicy bastard”, laughs Kling. “It’s fury and no part of it is like tepid and laid back or not thought about. It’s all carefully plotted to be a powerhouse. We didn’t want any fluff and anything that was like ‘eh’ we cut. We recorded another song called ‘Walking Shadows’ which is a scorcher, but we didn’t put it on the record because we felt it did not have the same feeling the rest of the record gave you. It’s supposed to be slated for a Japanese bonus release or something like that.”
For the longtime being away, there had to have been some trepidation that fans forgot about The Absence. “We’ve been doing a healthy amount of promising,” expresses Kling. “It was really difficult for us to regroup and to put all the ducks back in a row, and once that final lynchpin was removed it all just started going like a wildfire and things really started blaring up.”
The artwork for A Gift For The Obsessed is an impressive drawing and much different from their other album covers. “Previously all of our artwork was done by our old guitar player Peter (Joseph) and he basically did like photo manipulation,” explains the drummer, “but with this we wanted it drawn for us and we went with this guy called Stray Child, he’s a Russian artist, and we were just looking up dark art on Google and we kept circling the drain back to Stray Child. The photo depicts a Pandora’s Box and it’s kind of like the title track ‘A Gift For The Obsessed’, the lyrics are ‘What do you see in your moments of madness? Complete euphoric lunacy, content in chaos you get a gift for the obsessed.’ So you get to actually receive that. The concept is like why are we actually doing this? Why are we creating music? What are we trying to get across? What’s our message? We’re doing this for us and when you’re in that moment as a mad creator you think of a scientist in a laboratory having that eureka moment. The rest of the world is in chaos and what you’re going through in relationships and there’s societal pressures telling you not to do it and a lot of odds working against you, but we’re content in all that chaos and then the payoff is a gift for the obsessed.”
Album track “Septic Testament” was originally released as a single in 2016 and as Kling says the whole record was written during that time.
“We had everything written at that time. ‘Septic Testament’ was the first track Taylor (Nordberg, guitarist) had written for The Absence and then it went ‘A Gift For The Obsessed’, ‘Misery Trophies’, like he kind of went in line, but we chose ‘Septic Testament’ because we all loved it and all a part of the same era and all crafted at the same time. We all loved it so much that it ended up on the record and it brought some much needed attention back to the band.”
Also included is cover of the Suicidal Tendencies classic “You Can’t Bring Me Down” “We’ve always talked about doing a Suicidals cover and it’s a bit of ‘fuck you’ and ‘what the fuck is going on around here?’”, says Kling. The message resonates with band as he says, “We can do whatever and literally create whatever you want to create. No one can bring you down. The message in the song is pretty killer, relevant, literal, so it was an obvious decision.”
The Absence has another cover in the pipeline too, Iron Maiden’s “The Evil That Men Do”. “We have a female singer which I can’t disclose right now, but we all know her, and it’s cool because she’s singing the chorus on the song.”
Guitarist Joey Concepcion entered the band in 2016 while Taylor Nordberg came along in 2013, changing up the guitar tandem that was previously composed of Peter Joseph and Patrick Pintaville. “Taylor when he wrote this record, he really surprised all of us because it still sounds like The Absence and it has the feel of The Absence,” Kling commends, “which we switched up our firing line, both our guitar players. I gave Taylor a big list of albums that we were influenced by as a collective. He took those and he listened to those and with his own style he interjected himself into it, but didn’t really change the construction of the band.”
The drummer can’t believe that the writing turned out seamlessly and still retained the sound of The Absence with new guitarist. “In terms of the solos, Pete’s were really flashy and had some Marty Friedman little voicing that would happen and Pat had a lot of feel to his. Joey is more the high-flying lead player and Taylor is more a bluesy, feeling player. We still retain the same gunslingers on either side and again I don’t know how the fuck we did”, he laughs.
In fact Kling and the rest of the guys had no problem changing the band name and rebranding if it didn’t sound like The Absence. “Jaime (Stewart, vocalist) and I were talking, we’re like man if it doesn’t sound like The Absence we’ll just let it lie and we’ll change the band name and start another band. We didn’t want to trace on something and just exploit it because of a name,” he reveals. He went on to say, “If we can make it work and has the same feel then let’s do it and give the fans a new record that they can be proud of. I’m flattered to even say this but we have fans with our name tattooed on them and it’s like ‘holy shit’, what do you even do at that point? People care enough to have that on their body and what if we put out something that didn’t sound like the band? We’d be alienating those fans, but if we can make this work then let’s do it.”
As for a track that sticks out to Kling, it’s “Celestial Hysteria. “Massive fan of ‘Celestial Hysteria’. The song is about losing your mind in space so as it goes along and Jaime, how he spits the venom he is spitting changes and it hits throughout the song and it becomes more manic all the way up to the end and basically you hear all these alarms going off that insinuates being in space and the air locks going off. Whether that’s really happening or all in your mind is up to the listener,” Kling enthuses.
As for live shows in the future, a tour is planned, but the terms are not disclosed yet. “We have something booked for July in the U.S. and Canada I believe. I can’t announce the lineup yet, but we’re geared up for it.”