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Here’s a Frederick band consisting of three high schoolers who recorded an album in a basement. I have a soft spot for bands like this as my own experience in music consisted of me releasing homemade albums as a teenager in my living room with my band thenewseasons (thenewseasons.bandcamp.com). Abaddon’s debut release is entitled Above All Else. The group pins themselves in the expansive “Alternative Rock” genre, which is truly fitting. Below is a review.
Abaddon consists of:
Luke Hoffman: Lead and Backing Vocals, Lead Guitar, Rhythm Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Organ, Synthesizers, Mellotron, Production, Mixing
Waylon Repass: Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals, Production
Bradley Cannedy: Drums, Percussion, Trumpet on “Hermit Crab”, Production
Right off the bat I am impressed with the substantial amount of items each of the band members contributes to the album. Hoffman seems to be the ultimate songwriter and creative type through many different approaches on several instruments. Repass and Cannedy have a variety of skills as well. I’m very stunned by this young band.
“Entrance of the Right Wing (Ben Sharpio’s Theme)” – The bounciness of this quick instrumental track is provided by being slightly off tempo. That would normally be something that could be a downside, but in this case it is wonderfully chaotic as the drumming lands somewhere between Meg White and a slightly out of time jazz drummer. The lo-fi guitar and bass tones are genuine and are often attempted at being mimicked, but nothing can create them much like the lack of expensive music equipment (instrument and recording-wise).
“Lord of the Flies” – Any time low quality recording comes into play, you’ll find yourself compared to the likes of The White Stripes or others alike (I had the experience endlessly). The punky vibes within this track are shocking, coming from high schoolers. I’ve heard a lot of bands I admire aiming for a sound that comes even close to the slightly abrasive and carefree energy within “Lord of the Flies”. The things that really makes this song stand out is the fact that it somehow transforms from a quick punk song into a concoction of noise through remotely harsh experimental synth parts. To make matters even more interesting, the ending is provided on account of just acoustic guitar and Hoffman’s lyrics until everything builds back up into a smashing ending.
“Ubermensch” – Another punk number, but this time it’s driven on a backbeat. Almost a snarky British vocal tone is emulated and often pushed through distortion and other effects. Overlaid spoken word parts through more vocal processing are very impressive coming from a young band like this. The track clocks in at just 2:10 and every second of it has you on your toes. “You wanna know all there is to know – nobody got time for that”
“Derailed” – Edgy guitar is strummed deliberately as a variety of synth parts build this song into a completely different sound than the rest of the album. The direction is a bit shocking but very intriguing. Once the synths build up enough, things come to a quick stop before building up again into an electronic influenced punk/new wave jam full of surprises. Abaddon is a band that becomes more in sync as the album progresses. Brilliant vocal effects and the angsty delivery of the lyrics revolving around the powerful line “DERAIL ME” have me astounded that this is the band’s first effort. “Derail me, take me apart – derail me, rip out my heart – derail me, make me a new man – derail me, cause no one else can”
“Adolescent Essence” – The gliding fashion of this song is very reminiscent of something off the first Green Day album but then suddenly changes into a Bloc Party energy. It’s instantly engaging and easy to rock to.
“The Rebel Song” – This almost has a Bauhaus mixed with Dead Kennedys feeling as the unconventional bassline and drum pattern drives the beginning of the song and softly spoken yet deliberate verses launch into yelled choruses that channel the perfect cathartic release. Many bands fail to reach this level of interesting songwriting that is gripping and different than typical formats. “You told me it’s just noise, there’s no way it can hurt us”
“Pretty” – By far the most distinctly different song on the album. The sitar-like guitar jamming gradually finds its way into loud distorted guitars, straightforward bass and a wild drumbeat on a turned off snare drum.
“Holland, 1945” – This is where lo-fi hits a great potential. This track somes off as one of the most disguised “poppy” numbers. It’s confusingly catchy and the slightly out of tune guitars and bashful and overloaded drums make for a totally different sound. By the end, it almost seems like every instrument is following its own path.
“Loneliness Is Pain” – The bouncing guitar part leads things as simple bass and laid back drumming make way for the vocal that almost has the soulful vibe of a shoegaze track, except there is next to no reverb on it. The only downside to the track could be the time the song takes to evolve (something Abaddon had done more quickly on the rest of the album).
“Hermit Crab” – Deep acoustic guitar and vocals are covered in delay and make for a very astonishing ending to the album. The song features a trumpet melody that is amazingly lovely and even gospel-like/80s synth sounds. The most unexpected closer to an album full of edgy rock, no doubt.