L.A. doesn't have a big death metal scene, but Abysmal Dawn is looking to change that. Their fourth album, Obsolescence, drops at the end of October and, spoiler alert: it’s sick. Check out their new track “The Inevitable Return to Darkness”, below, for a taste.
Or, even better the band is hosting a free listening party this Sunday at Complex, in Glendale. (MMA fighter Josh Barnett will co-host.) You can also see them at the Vibe Bar & Grill in Riverside this Tuesday, Sept 30.
We caught up with guitarist, vocalist, and chief songwriter Charles Elliot, a reserved but intense fellow who got kicked out of Sunday school as a child. Our topics covered include humanity’s expiration date and how metal lyrics would be more interesting if they sounded like Tori Amos.
Not many death metal bands have come out of Los Angeles.
There is an L.A. death metal scene, obviously, but I know what you mean. I think there’s not a lot of L.A. death metal bands that have gone on to put out records on labels. Unless you want to count Fear Factory, but they’ve sort of drifted away from death metal. They still have that influence. And then there’s Sadistic Intent, who run Dark Realm records out of Downey, and they’ve always had a good following in L.A…I think maybe the closest thing I can think of is The Faceless, but they’re more from the Valley originally. So yeah, I think you’re right. There aren’t a ton of death metal bands that have made it out of this local scene.
Your album sounds like it has the best of both the retro and the newer styles of death metal. You’re taking an old-school feel and giving it a new twist.
There’s influences from all over, but I will agree with what you’re saying that there’s definitely an old-school feel in there. But we’re doing it with a modern approach. Not even just in L.A., but I think in general, there aren’t a ton of new bands that are playing quality, old-school death metal but doing it with a new approach.
Perhaps you're the next generation of that Cannibal Corpse sound that’s heavy but hooky.
Yeah, and our new album has a lot of melody and even some black metal parts on there. So there’s just tons of influences. Lyrically, I can’t stand most metal bands these days. So, lyrically, I draw a lot of influence from not only my personal stance but from my personal experience and my views on society. I feel like there’s better lyricists in indie rock bands or alternative bands, like Radiohead or Tori Amos. I find that way more interesting, and having that in a more metal context I think is cool and different.
A common thread in your lyrics has to do with the extinction of humanity so that a new life form can take over. It’s both an ending and a beginning. Do you find that to be a cynical point of view or a hopeful one?
I’m not sure anymore. I think when I wrote this record, I was in a pretty negative frame of mind. There’s a whole wide range of topics…In a song like “Human Obsolescence”, it comes from the term “planned obsolescence,” which in business terms means everything has an expiration date. Everything’s made to be broken down and replaced. I applied that idea toward our society and humanity. I feel like we’re viewed often times as replaceable commodities. So that’s where that came from. A song like “Perfecting Slavery,” it was sort of my frustration with not knowing where to find the truth anymore. There’s so many different sources from the left and right of just flat out lies from trying to divert the truth.
I don’t know if I’m a miserable person, but I’m definitely a cynical person. It’s just how I’ve always been raised. I’ve always been taught to question things. [As] a kid, my parents tried to take me to Sunday school and church all the time, and I’d always get kicked out for asking too many questions.
I’ve heard it said that people who are cynical often are frustrated idealists. Is that something you can relate to?
I’d say so. Because sometimes maybe I expect too much from people. For some reason, embedded in me, there is this strong moral idealism all the time.
For the longest time, I felt like I was just complaining. I’m not offering any solutions. But at the same time, I feel like artists are meant to inspire change, not necessarily come up with the means for change or the actual change. So I feel like that’s more my role, rather than design a whole new way of life.