Review: “In Absence” by Cathartic Demise

Embellished with cover art by Ioannis Vassilopoulas, the debut full length album from Kitchener, Ontario Progressive Thrash Metal quartet Cathartic Demise is the culmination of five years of working on their craft. Formed in 2017 by high school friends Angus Pike (drums) and Bennett Smith (guitar, vocals) who were joined by bassist Aaron Tanner and second guitarist Taylor Wrobkewski in a matter of weeks, quickly completing the quartet. Eight months later they landed their first show before entering the Studio, to record the self titled three-track EP, mastered by the legendary Jamie King (Between The Buried And Me, The Contortionist). What followed was a wealth of shows in and around Ontario, before entering the studio once more in 2020 to record “In Absence” with Jonah Kay at HM Studio, Waterloo Ontario who also mixed, Jamie King once again mastering.

There is a distinctive “Master of Puppets” era Metallica feel to instrumental opening “With Lust” which comes complete with a soaring solo before bursting fourth into “For Power” without a pause for breath. A modern take on the Thrash genre with a certain amount of nostalgia which will no doubt get older Metal Heads raising their horns, the opening pair are as good as you’ll find anywhere, the rampant speed and Melodic Death Metal leads backed by a furiously tight rhythms as they duel like the finest works of Iron Maiden. Those melodic leads rise from the black depths of the abyss forĀ  “Blade In The Dark” with breathtaking agility as Cathartic Demise impress with gloriously execution of tempo shifts and some finger blistering, smoking fretboard frenetic riffs that threaten to get out of control but manage to stay just within. When it comes to playing these cuts live, hold onto your hats because it will be a case of who can play faster while still managing to bang your head! That adrenaline soaked breakneck speed continues into “Silence“, the band building their foundations with complex, tight rhythms rather than overdoing the virtuoso solos and allowing the bass guitar to bleed through the mix on this one makes it a real highlight. This one has the solo which Trivium guitarist Corey Beaulieu would be proud while also having a couple of signature Pat Sheridan, Fit For An Autopsy esq riff moments. What Cathartic Demise have managed to do with “In Absence” is capture the same level of aggression as they did on their self titled debut EP but also mix it with improved musicianship thanks to the time they have spent together in the rehearsal space and upon the stage, pushing each other to their limits. The result is an deeper intensity, darker atmospheres and a greater attention to detail.

Cathartic Demise aren’t afraid to embrace longer instrumental passages and with “Pale Imitations” they take a winding road before the vocals appear after 200 seconds. Those sections give the music an opportunity to breathe and give the lyrics a harder hitting style and the average of six guitar notes before a complex turn around in the riffs is majestic on this one. Smith’s vocals are gruff but distinctive and very much the Thrash bark that means all the lyrics are audible. There is no let up in quality andĀ  “Disparity” has virtuoso solos with intertwining riff duels in the finale that will send circle pits wild. Title track “In Absence” has a very Trivium esq opening riff before breaking into something more brutal as Smith strains every sinue with some new lows in the uncleans perhaps signalling more of an emotional attachment to the lyrics, the pace and energy of the cut a white knuckle roller coaster ride. “Waves” is the real surprise as it introduces clean vocals for the first time on the album, which have a certain fragile elegance to them, the mournful meloncholic atmosphere a glorious creation as the band show a certain maturity to their sound in an understated way. That vulnerability continues into the first half “Desire” which helps to build the flow of the record as a whole. A majestic instrumental that leaves no stone unturned in its search for the spiratual home of Metal that is riff city, it’s not only a track of sheer vibrant brilliance but also one that wraps it’s closing notes into the same riff as the album begins with, creating a seamless pattern for those who embrace listening on repeat – and why not? This is jaw dropping [9/10]

Track listing

  1. With Lust
  2. For Power
  3. Blade In The Dark
  4. Silence Within
  5. Pale Imitations
  6. Disparity
  7. In Absence
  8. Waves
  9. Desire

In Absence” by Cathartic Demise is out 9th April and is available for pre-order over at bandcamp

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