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Abysmal Dawn (band)
I had a chance to sit down and talk to Charles Elliot of Abysmal Dawn recently. Their latest effort, Leveling the Plane of Existence, is due out shortly, so I fired over some questions via e-mail about it and their upcoming tour dates. Here is what he had to say…


Abysmal Dawn formed back in 2003, and since then has gone under a number of line-up changes, and it seems each brought a different level of Death Metal intensity to the recordings. What do you think of the current one compared to some of the past line-ups, or do you think this is the strongest line-up the band has had?

Charles:
Well like you said I think this album is much more intense and I think our new drummer has something to do with it. I definitely feel this is our best release so far so I feel it’s our best lineup as well. We’re just playing at a different intensity and level of complexity and I don’t know if past lineups would have been able to have pulled this record off.

Do you think that what appears on “Leveling the Plane of Existence” is what we can expect from the group for a good while, or do you think the band is still growing?

Charles:
I don’t know. I think we’re always growing as a band and I don’t think any of our records sound exactly alike. We definitely want to progress with every record and I feel we have so far in every way. I’d like to think the next record will be even better or else what’s the point to put out more of the same? I guess certain bands do it but we always want something different. Some of favorite bands lCarcass and Death always put out different sounding records while still maintaining their style.

Abysmal Dawn seems to have a lot of varying lyrical content with themes cited from occult-related material to social issues. Was there a main theme the band went for with this release, or were the lyrics just whatever theme you felt best fit the music?

Charles:
I wouldn’t say we deal with the occult too much. It’s mostly social commentary, personal struggles and a bit of sci-fi since that’s usually rooted in social commentary. Overall the theme of the record is resetting the planet back to zero and starting over. That theme of renewal is something that ran deep in my personal life at the time of this record as well. Destroying something to create something new and better.

Were there any major outside inspirations for the album, whether musical or just life experiences?

Charles:
Like I said just a lot of hardships in my personal life at the time and with the band. I rather not go into details but I can say it affect the outcome of this record greatly I think.

Erik Rutan did the mixing and mastering of the album, but did you guys have any direct input on that, or any direct contact with Erik in the first place?

Charles:
Yeah I talked to Erik a bunch. When we recorded drums we were sending him stuff for reference as we went along and he would give his feedback. I actually spoke with him quite a lot about the record and what we wanted. That guys awesome! We talked so much shit together (laughs).

The release also features some guest appearances including Kragen Lum of Heathen and Moyses Kolesne of Krisiun. How exactly did it come to pass that these twocontributed to the recording? Also, did you have any direct contact with these individuals, as well as any input on what they brought to the table for the CD?

Charles:
Well Moyses I’ve been friends with since we toured together in 2006. I’ve known Kragen from Prototype and through Mike Bear (Producer) for quite sometime now too. Since I was the only one recording guitars for the record I had a ton of solos to do and maybe one written before I got to the studio. I still had lyrics to finish at the same time. Initially I thought I might have Kragen guest on the whole record but he couldn’t really commit to all the touring. Ultimately I just had them play on it because I like their playing and it helped alleviate some of the stress I was under.

Much of the recording goes at a mid-tempo to somewhat faster speed. However, “Manufactured Humanity” just felt like a balls out track of pure rage thanks to the amount of technicality it has against such a blistering speed. How did it come about that this track is so dramatically different in all aspects, including the amount of energy it feels like exists in it?

Charles:
I don’t know. It’s a great track but tempo wise it’s definitely not the fastest track at all. Glad you like the song but I have to say there are faster songs on the record.

The Sleeper Awakens is also quite different, having more of a menacing, end of the world desolate feeling to how it’s performance, and overall atmosphere. How did this track come to be on the album, and does it hold any specific importance other then being so different?

Charles:
I had been talking about doing a doom band for a long time with my friend Sacha from Intronaut. I think the first and maybe second riff were things I intended for that project. That never came to fruition at the time, although I’m actually tracking vocals for that now, so I ended up using it somewhat reluctantly for Abysmal Dawn. It came out killer though and we were all really stoked to do something a bit different. Some people think it’s the best thing we’ve every done others think it totally sucks (laughs). We like it though.

On the entire release, what would you say are your favorite tracks and why?

Charles:
That’s a tough one but I’d say “My Own Savior”, “In Service of Time” and “Rapture Renowned”. They’re just really fun to play live.

Your last album “Programmed to Consume” was released on vinyl, but there seems to be no mention of a vinyl release for “Leveling the Plane of Existence”. Any idea why that is? if there’s no plans at this time, would you ever like to see it released on vinyl?

Charles:
Not sure, maybe death metal isn’t a huge seller of vinyl? Would love to see it released on vinyl at some point though.

Do you think the material on this album would be enhanced or come off stronger in any way on vinyl?

Charles:
Well the artwork always look great on vinyl. It has a different sound too but I don’t know that it’s better just different.

Clearly there is going to be a good amount of touring for the album, but do you see your tour schedule like it has been in previous years, will there be less shows, more shows, anything along those lines?

Charles:
Just confirmed two more tours so it might be the most touring we’ve ever done.

Are there any bands you would like to tour with, or are set to tour with in the coming days?

Charles:
So many we’d love to tour with man. Carcass, Cannibal Corpse, Nile, Suffocation, Behemoth, Lamb of God, Fear Factory, Dimmu Borgir, At The Gates, Testament, Machine Head, Immolation, Hypocrisy, Belphegor, Danzig, the list goes on.

How about festivals? Abysmal Dawn has played a good number of them in the past. Are there any you plan to perform at, or hope you get the chance to perform at?

Charles:
Nothing booked currently. Would love to play the Maryland Deathfest, Wacken, Neurotic Deathfest, Summer Breeze, Bloodstock etc.

Out of all the festivals you have played, which would you say has been your favorite experience, and please explain why.

Charles:
Maybe one of the Murderfests in LA. It was just the best attended and had a good crowd.

How has the fan reaction been to the new material? At this point, it’s safe to say you’ve performed some of the songs live. Which ones do you feel the fans really get into?

Charles:
The reaction has been amazing and it’s been getting our best repsonses yet. “In Service of Time” and “My Own Savior” are the ones people get into the most live I feel.

Overall, are you happy with the new album, as well as where Abysmal Dawn currently is in the metal world? Are there any changes you wish you could make to either, or any goals you would like to see the band, or album, reach at some point?

Charles:
We definitely made the best album we could at the time and our best so far. Things seem to finally be taking off a little for us with all these great tours we’ve been getting lately. At this point the band is precisely where it needs to be. With every album we get closer to becoming a headlining act outside of Los Angeles and I’m proud of that.

Thank you very much for your time, and I hope all goes well for Abysmal Dawn in the time to come.

Charles:
Thanks Jason!

Abysmal Dawn: Leveling the Plane of Existence
Abysmal Dawn
Interview conducted thanks to Relapse Records.