"An Absence of Empathy" (Progrock Records; 2005)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Former Skid Row vocalist Sebastian Bach delivers some of his best ever work on Frameshift's "An Absence of Empathy." Add the brilliant Henning Pauly to the mix and this CD winds up being a true must-listen.

A complex, rich and stunningly produced concept album, Frameshift shocks with its well-written and crisply performed songs, all of which examine some aspect of human violence. Truly taking the words "progressive rock" to heart, Frameshift isn't afraid to work outside of the box on "An Absence of Empathy." Instead, boundaries and genres are pushed aside as the band delivers a truly mind-expanding set that plays as much as a rock'n'roll album as the soundtrack to a rock opera. 

The lyrics are cold, dark and menacing throughout. This CD is about violence, and -- despite "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" -- violence isn't pretty. Some may say that makes the CD too depressing. The truth is, however, that it gives "Absence" an edgy morbidity that is grittily fascinating. 

As mentioned at the outset of this review, Sebastian Bach is nothing short of stunning here, giving his voice a real workout as he sings not only with tone and strength but with character, which often changes from song to song. This is no doubt the best thing Bach has done in years. Pauly's musicianship is the other star. Pauly (who plays everything here except for drums) is nothing short of amazing, not only performing everything to perfection but arranging, orchestrating, programming, engineering, mixing and mastering everything to incredible aural intensity. This album sounds great on speakers but takes on a life of its own with headphones!

Fans of progressive metal, Sebastian Bach and/or Henning Pauly will truly enjoy "An Absence of Empathy."

Frameshift: Sebastian Bach - vocals; Henning Pauly - Guitars, Bass, Warr Guitar, Piano, B3, Rhodes, Synthesizers, Hand Percussion; Eddie Marvin - Drums.

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright 2006 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 13 May 2024 14:45:21 -0400 .