There's gotta be something in the water (or weed) in Colorado, because there seems to be no shortage of talented bands coming out of the Centennial State. The metal underground has been paying very close attention to Khemmis lately, and included in that same sphere of influence is Abrams, a band born several years ago out of the remnants of a little-known sludge band called Black Sleep of Kali. Abrams seamlessly blends sludgy grooves with an almost '90s grunge edge, resulting in something that's accessible enough for the non-metalhead yet still legit enough for the diehards. Their 2015 debut Lust. Love. Loss. was definitely a gem from that year, and they've followed up this year with Morning, a emotional bulldozer of a record that sees the band refining its songcraft and sound.
Clearly a band rooted in latter-day Baroness and Mastodon influence, one of Abrams' most attractive qualities is their ability to blend heartfelt melodies with ethereal ambience and driving rhythms. The dual vocal talents of Taylor Iversen and Zach Amster also set this band apart from some of their contemporaries, giving off a very much Hinds/Sanders vibe at times. A bit of punk influence even sneaks its way in at times, as evidenced by album opener "Worlds Away," calling to mind the sludge/punk cacophony of Black Tusk. Basically, Abrams is very in-tune with what's working in the present day sludge metal sound, and they combine all of this effortlessly into a style all their own.
A series of creative, uplifting and cool riffs can be found sprinkled throughout Morning. The hooks of "18 Weeks" and "Burned" really reveal the band's penchant for successfully mixing sludge with rock, which they do arguably better than most bands attempting this style. However, where Abrams really shines is in the softer, more airy tracks on the record. A prime example is "Mourning" (not be confused with title track "Morning"), which begins with a touching melody on the guitar and builds into a balls-to-the-wall rock out session, punctuated by a guest appearance from Khemmis' own Phil Pendergast. Should Abrams and Khemmis play a local show in Denver again in the near future, this song in particular will be killer to witness live.
Morning is a great sophomore effort from a band who hasn't been on the scene for that long. They've been making waves locally in Denver, and are about to embark on a U.S. tour in support of the record. Even though the music found on Morning is of the utmost quality, it still feels a bit incomplete once its end comes. No matter though, because Abrams are clearly a band who are going to grow from record to record, and Morning is just the record the band needed to make to get their name out there. They have all the potential in the world to make a bona fide sludge/rock masterpiece; Morning is major a stepping stone, and a really good one, toward that.
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