"At large, metal finally seems be opening its borders, shedding subgenre orthodoxy to chart new courses. At this point, nobody’s going to out-blitz Napalm Death’s 1985 LP Scum or outlast any of Sunn O)))’s intricate and maleficent quarter-hour drones. And with blasphemers like Deafheaven and Liturgy offering new on-ramps to the left-hand path, the old guard is increasingly old hat."
"But we needn’t ring the death knell for metal. Take, as an example, Columbia’s own Abacus, whose full-length debut, En Theory, mines generations of heavy music — from acrobatic math-rock to blunt-force hardcore — inviting heads to be both banged and scratched."
"Where the band’s 2013 EP skewed hardcore, volleying between crust-punk’s straight-ahead charge and the jagged, erratic eruptions of ‘90s hardcore, En Theory more fully synthesizes the band’s inspirations. On “Loyal Death,” a raw, grindcore blast beat rolls into a d-beat stomp that drives momentum behind a corkscrewing post-hardcore riff. The rhythm stays bullet-straight as guitars make jagged, short-blade cuts. “Nothing Is Sacred” closes the album with bleak black metal, riding a blast-beat barrage with tremolo-picked chords carving a spartan melody from the deafening din. Rather than a series of stylistic exercises stitching together disparate scraps, Abacus treats these elements as cut from the same cloth."
"The results are thrilling. The ominous acoustic passage “A Figment” flows gracefully into the angled blues-metal riff that opens “Bodies of Water.” It’s not a gambit or a gimmick — neither a prog-metal lark or a calculated break for sensitivity — but a new shading of familiar contours. In freeing itself to embrace all things heavy, without the burden of context, Abacus has produced a fresh, exciting and righteously heavy album. In such hands, metal remains alive and well."
- Bryan C. Reed, The Free-Times, Feb. 25, 2015