Knights of the Abyss
"The Culling of Wolves"

(Ferret Music 2010)Knights of the Abyss - The Culling of Wolves

I'm not sure why this band still calls itself Knights of the Abyss. About a zillion members have come and gone, and out of the current roster, exactly one was around when the band was formed. As expected, this revolving door policy of membership has led to an appreciable stylistic shift, so the only reason to carry on the original band name is that OG Knight Nick Florence thinks it sounds cool. Only it kind of doesn't.

Moniker issues notwithstanding, of far greater importance is that musical change I mentioned. It seems KOTA went from fairly generic deathcore on their first two albums to fairly generic melodic death metal on "The Culling of Wolves," their third outing. This is basically Black Dahlia Murder with a twist of late-period Dark Tranquillity, only without the outright fun of BDM or DT's finely honed sense of songcraft. Knights of the Abyss manage to nail every single staple of Gothenburg-style death, but in doing so forgot to add any real soul or flavor to the album. The only time KOTA deviate from the path of brutally melodic guitar lines, standard rasping growls, and laser-precise solos is the occasional booming breakdown, shadows of the band as they were a few dozen members ago. The fact that all the songs on here blend together in an indistinguishable jumble is really a shame, too, as these guys are all very talented musicians.

For all the skill and focus the band shows, there's just not much on "The Culling of Wolves" that sticks. Knights of the Abyss follow the script way too closely to allow for any sort of memorable listening experience; this could be any one of a thousand bands, most of them carrying four-word names. They need to loosen their belts, let the gut hang out a bit, and maybe get a little adventurous on the next album. And keep a band member or two around, for God's sake.

C+

buy it!