Italy, a cultured land of wine, fine art and steeped in lavish history, isn’t necessarily the first place you think of when it comes to metal, but the country has some history with the genre. Following on from the likes of Disarmonia Mundi, Fleshgod Apocalypse and Rhapsody, and adding a little more of our favourite heavy culture to Italy’s music scene, is Dying Awkward Angel. Their debut, Absence of Light, features elements of melodeath à la early Dark Tranquility and In Flames, and the muscular punch of As I Lay Dying.

Absence of Light is a guitar-led record, but elements of progression seep into the heavy sound every so often, too. “Absence of Light” is an entirely atmospheric, folk-like piece that certainly wouldn’t sound out of place in an In Flames album, for example. That said, these moments are few and far between, and for the most part, this is a release that seems content to lie within murky mid-tones. It’s hugely reminiscent of the earlier work of As I Lay Dying at times, with thrashy, death metal guitars played behind aggressive, but rather unimpressive growls. Everything present is decent and delivered with some passion, but there is certainly scope for improvement.

Sadly, Absence of Light is light on experimentation. “The Dust Devil” is no different than “Death Coach”, “Dolls” is no different from “Tusk” and so on and so forth. Dying Awkward Angel’s sound is a simple one that relies on, at times, crushing heaviness (rumbling bass and chunky riffs towards the end of “Dolls”, for example) and a touch of melody, all played at a medium-pace. There are a couple of exceptions, however, and these provide the highlights of Absence of Light. “Sancta Sanctorum”, for instance, is similar in execution to an Amon Amarth track, combining epic, heavy riffs with plenty of melody in a catchy chorus. This is a slower, beefier song than the rest. “Maldita Seas”, meanwhile, opens with vicious pace and aggression, before allowing itself to breathe in a mid-section that applies plenty of great melodic guitar. More tracks such as these would help a potential follow-up to shine.

Sample the band’s sonic power with the “Maldita Seas” lyric video.

For the most part, Absence of Light is a relatively simple metal record that treads the same paths as In Flames, As I Lay Dying and Dark Tranquility did early on in their careers. Throughout this album, we are offered glimpses of what Dying Awkward Angel could be if they allowed more melody into their guitar-led, mid-paced sound. What we have here, is a solid enough debut from a band who could surprise in years to come.

Absence of Light Track Listing:

01. Blood of Your Blood
02. Death Coach
03. Isaiah 53 7
04. Shade
05. Dolls
06. Sancta Sanctorum
07. Absence of Light
08. Maldita Seas
09. The Dust Devil
10. Tusk
11. Killing Floor

Run Time: 44:37
Release Date: May 25, 2018
Record Label: Rockshots