While the evolution of humanity is historically viewed in positive terms, Charles Elliott sees it differently. The vocalist, guitarist, and lyricist for LA death metal squad Abysmal Dawn chose the term phylogenesis—the evolutionary history of an organism—for the title of his band’s fifth album because he sees us moving backwards. “I think it can be applied to society and how we’ve devolved in several different aspects,” he tells Apple Music. “Whether it’s social media and just not respecting each other or the breakdown of communication online and the decay of legitimate journalism.” Elliott has had plenty of time to brood on his chosen topic. Abysmal Dawn’s last album, Obsolescence, came out in 2014. In the six years in between, he and bassist Eliseo Garcia have welcomed two new members to the fold—drummer James Coppolino and guitarist Vito Petroni. They started tracking Phylogenesis in late 2017, but things took longer than expected. “I feel like maybe life needed to happen a little bit in order to write this record,” Elliott says. “I don’t think it would’ve turned out the same if it hadn’t taken so long.” Below, Elliott walks us through the album’s (de-)evolutionary twists and turns. Mundane Existence “The song starts with a reworked quote from Eric Weinstein, but the first actual line of me singing is saying, ‘Fuck you all.’ It just felt like with everything going on in our lives and everything against us and having this record take so long, it seemed appropriate for me to just say, ‘Fuck you—we’re back.’” The Path of the Totalitarian “This one is based on my feelings about social media and how it's given everyone a voice. Maybe not everyone is deserving of that voice, and everyone is speaking at the same time over each other. It seems to cause a breakdown of communication between the people and those who can shout the loudest or carry the biggest stick online. I feel like social media is a distraction where people are just fighting, and that makes us easier to control.” Hedonistic “This one is based off the idea that if you find your purpose in life, you’ll find happiness. In modern society, they push the new car or the new gadget on you, but it shouldn’t be your goal in life to obtain these things. Pursuit of happiness shouldn’t be about money—it should be based on finding a purpose and doing something meaningful. It’ll come and go, but it’s like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, where if you have your basic needs taken care of, you can find happiness.” A Speck in the Fabric of Eternity “This is about knowing your own place in the universe, and that you’re just a speck in the fabric of eternity. You’re a blip on the map of creation, basically. In the grand scheme of things, maybe we won’t be missed. I’m on Team Humans by default, but I wish we could do better. And that’s where my criticism stems from. It’s not really that I want humanity to be wiped out, although there’s a certain catharsis that comes with dreaming about that.” Coerced Evolution “We get pegged with the ‘sci-fi death metal’ tag a lot, but this is the only sci-fi track on the record. It’s based on the idea that sometime in the near future, when we’ve exhausted all the resources on Earth, corporations will come in and round up everyone that can’t afford to live in the real world and upload their consciousness to a grid. Meanwhile, there’s still some kind of overlord residing on Earth, living in the real world. It seems relevant to the way the Earth is going.” True to the Blind “That one is about sensationalist media and the decay of a lot of legitimate forms of media. You have these huge institutions that were respected within news communities, but then as people stopped buying newspapers and there’s less money in it, these institutions resort to more of the sensationalist headlines and stuff of that nature because they’re just trying to sell click-throughs on websites. Not all publications, obviously, but a lot of journalistic institutions suffered because negativity, slanted news, or straight-up fake stories sell more than truth.” Soul-Sick Nation “Fredrik Folkare from Unleashed does two guest solos on this one. We had a great time touring with Unleashed in South America, so we asked him to do a solo on it, and he ended up doing two. I was like, ‘Fuck yeah—that’s great.’ Lyrically, it's about the mental health epidemic in this country—and how it’s affected me and other people in my life.” The Lament Configuration “This is a reference to the Hellraiser series. In the first two movies, you didn’t really know what the puzzle box was or what its meaning was or who the Cenobites were or where they really came from or anything like that. It was very open to interpretation, and it seemed like the people in the movies were almost thrill seekers, bored with life. They were looking for some sort of new experience because they just couldn’t feel anymore. That’s what I took it to mean, anyway. So I applied that idea to the numbness of society in general. After being numbed by society for so long, you just want to feel something.” Flattening of Emotions “I’m a huge fan of Death—they’re one of my biggest influences—and the Human album is probably my favorite record of theirs. I was able to do that first Death to All tour and was really honored to meet all those guys and play some of my favorite songs of all time with some of my favorite musicians. I always wanted to do something off of Human, but it never was in the cards before. So this ended up being not only a tribute to [Death founder] Chuck [Schuldiner] but also [former Death drummer] Sean Reinert, who passed away recently.”

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