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Mallika Sundaramurthy: Vocals
Jay Blaisdell: Drums
Josh Staples: Bass
Sam Kirsch: Guitars
Jeremy Henry: Guitars
The fertile east coast death metal scene has poured forth some seriously formidable bands over the last decade, but there are few that can match the sheer visceral power and razor sharp songwriting skills of Marlborough, Massachusetts' Abnormality. Marrying the ceaseless brutality coming out of New York and New England to the hyper-blasting intensity endemic to Quebecois death metal, the quintet deliver music that is as unrelenting as it is passionate, and with their second full-length, Mechanisms Of Omniscience, they deliver a defiant blow. "The album is total death metal, no bullshit, no fancy shine. This is an album for the blue collar worker who's killing him or herself to live, and the kid stuck at home who's listening on headphones," states bassist Josh Staples. Moreover, tackling real world issues with intelligence and raw emotion, they create music that both moves and matters. "I am interested in the true nature of the world, the power structure and why the world is the way it is. There are many illusions out there, or blatant lies, rewritten history, and I do my own investigations and attempt to see through falsities. I want to know about human nature, how and why people can be cruel to each other, and why there is so much suffering in the world," states vocalist Mallika Sundaramurthy, who splits lyric writing duties with drummer Jay Blaisdell. "We write about the destruction of humanity, but we are not for the destruction of humanity."
Formed in 2005, the band drew its members from the ranks of units such as Teratism, Forced Asphyxiation, Goratory and Sexcrement, and they have worked patiently and persistently to build up a grassroots following, maintaining their integrity while steadily expanding beyond their local scene. While initially envisaged as a side project between Sundaramurthy, Blaisdell and guitarist Jeremy Henry, their intent was to write high quality, technical and heavy music, and as this crystallized a desire to bombard audiences grew. In 2010 they dropped their debut EP The Collective Calm In Mortal Oblivion, which immediately drew attention in the underground, followed by the crushing and critically acclaimed full-length Contaminating The Hive Mind in 2012, cementing their status as one of the heaviest and most dynamic bands in the genre. Importantly, the band have also grown with every release. "Each album has its own feeling and its own variations but remains rooted in the core Abnormality sound," Sundaramurthy says. "An album documents where we were at in that time and space, what we were thinking and what inspired us then, including world events, politics, and things in our personal lives. There are some consistent elements throughout the discography, but certainly there is an evolution you can follow if you listen to our music chronologically."
Embracing their network of fans, they have toured extensively and proved themselves a dominating force no matter what size stage they play on, performing from coast to coast and border to border, as well as racking up festival appearances in the United States, Colombia, and Europe. In 2014 they tore up the continent while on the road with Dehumanized, Malignancy and Beneath, and their appearance at The Netherlands' Neurotic Deathfest was a highpoint for the band. Disinterested in flash-in-the-pan popularity, the band focused on building momentum organically, their reputation growing both through word of mouth and via the many videos posted on YouTube, including the eerie clip for "Monarch Omega", which has racked up almost 2 million views. With such a fervent following, the band remain fiercely loyal to their fans, reciprocating the love and devotion shown them. "The people who have been with us and supported us from the beginning, it's crucial to us," states Henry. "Contrary to popular belief, being a musician in today's day and age is a shitty prospect. The sacrifices made are overwhelming at times, but it's those people offering their support that keep you motivated and moving forward, and believing that what you are doing is worthwhile despite an increasingly materialistic and shallow society."
While 2016 marks the 11th year of Abnormality's existence, the savage anger and urgency driving Mechanisms Of Omniscience is the sound of the hungriest of bands, generating an intoxicating energy. With the lineup solidifying with recent addition Sam Kirsch on guitar, the band approached the follow up to Contaminating The Hive Mind with the intent of moving their sound forward, and utilizing the skills of every member of the band has always been important to the Abnormality creative process. "Our newest member, Sam, gave us a new perspective and influence," adds Henry. "Everyone contributes to the writing process, and it was only natural that someone coming from a different place musically would have an impact on the end result. I think the push and pull from our members' differing opinions and musical influences lend itself to the musical compositions evolving from song to song and record to record." This approach ensures that only the strongest emotions are pushed to the surface. Through focusing on individual songs rather than planning out a whole album in advance, it makes for more potent and dynamic songwriting, and by the time they headed into the studio with longtime producer Peter Rutcho, they had ten killer tracks ready to be laid down. "Rutcho has been with us for years now, and that type of familiarity and comfort level cannot be replaced," says Henry. "He knows all of us in and out, all of our flaws and strengths. He really put his mark on this record as well-- there was a lot of sonic production that went into it where his creativity was crucial." The result of this meeting of minds really does see the band elevated to the proverbial next level. The floodgates open with "Swarm", a frenzied and contorted sonic assault that destroys everything in its path, and from there on out they don't let up. Music is rarely uglier or more scathing than that unleashed on "Irreversible"; the grooves and atmospheric textures blended with unrepentant hostility on "Synthetic Pathogenesis" are almost overwhelming, and by the time apocalyptic closer "Consuming Infinity" collapses under its sheer sonic weight, the listener is left feeling brutalized. Still, the music is only part of the picture, and every lyric Sundaramurthy wraps her ferocious roar around is rooted in the ideology of the band. At the core of this is the title track, penned by Blaisdell. "The chorus is 'The abuse absolute, like a tumor you can't remove, this cancer spreads to every organ. This prison we live in, mechanisms of omniscience, relying on uniform ignorance', and the song is about the well established order of control and power in the world," the drummer explains. "It's about the people who have the real power and their means and methods of control over us, and how those methods require a level of ignorance on our part in order to be successful. The methods, or mechanisms, exist in many forms. It's unavoidable and invasive. From the endless wars and atrocities, to the fractional reserve debt slavery, the rigged elections and the criminals who are supposed to represent us, or the blatant spying on everyone and everything by intelligence agencies that are completely out of control. These are just a few of many enormous problems that have grown beyond repair. Mechanisms Of Omniscience is about a monolithic system of control that is so advanced that it not only successfully ensures the same sadistic fucks maintain the power and control they've always had, it also does this while convincing everyone else to enjoy their own subjugation, the illusion of being free." Sundaramurthy concurs with this, and all of the lyrics she writes come from a similarly critical stance, cutting through the lies, and dissecting complex issues without flinching-- yet while there are elements of bleakness to this, it is not the whole picture. "My lyrics are rooted in realism, investigation of our reality, spirituality, with a tinge of idealism. I'm curious about where humans came from, where civilization is going, and all the darkness that goes along with those things. I like to look straight into the void of reality, past, present and future, and not shy away from it. Though this may sound nihilistic, I stand for finding and speaking truth, however dreadful it may be. I believe in morality, and in helping the oppressed and voiceless."
Adding a further dimension to the album's impact is the artwork, which was also created by Sundaramurthy. While embodying an old school spirit there is something immediate and contemporary about it, encapsulating the violence of the music beyond this image. "I am inspired by old school death metal album covers and also dark fantasy and surrealist artists, such as Zdzisław Beksiński, Wayne Barlowe, and Dan Seagrave, and I went for an abstract approach with the album cover. It is meant to represent the dark emotions and cover some different themes throughout the album songs."
Armed with the record, and thrilled to have Metal Blade behind them, the band have never been as serious about getting their message out there, as well as ensuring legions of the moshing masses incur whiplash, bloody noses and blown MCLs in the best way possible. While they are understandably proud of the hard work they have put in over the years and the finished product that is Mechanisms Of Omniscience, in many ways they are just getting started. "We would like to keep evolving our brand of aggressive, technical, yet atmospheric death metal into new and unexplored territory," says Sundaramurthy, but their intentions go much deeper than this, and she makes it clear that the drive and purpose pushing the members of Abnormality has never been more urgent. "The American dream is dead, illusions and fallacies are being exposed; the masses have been sold out to the corporate elite, the planet is being ransacked, and we're all fucked. We have never been more pissed off and inspired to spread our music and our vision of the brutal realities of our world. The machine that is Abnormality has only gotten stronger and louder over the years. We won't let up until we leave our mark on the metal scene, and the world."