From strictly technical band into progressive monsters – here comes Son Of Aurelius! Their debut was great but the follower is one of the best prog death metal albums I’ve heard in a long time. They combine extraordinary maturity with complex, yet catchy compositions. Very warm and positive release and nice guys beside everything. I wasn’t wrong commenting their coming through as a “rising star”. Go and listen to the “Under A Western Sun”! Continue reading
THE ILLUSIONIST (2013)
Mexico, Cronophonia Records, Technical Death Metal
In the modern age of metal, listeners struggle not with finding new bands, but quite the opposite – discerning the quality releases among a sea of standard clones of copies. Especially difficult is the world of technical death metal, as, even though a million notes jammed into a single riff takes extreme dexterity, a great song it may not make.
The four-piece Tranatopsy understands the concept that a replica of a band that has been duplicated a dozen times is not what the music world needs again. Their debut EP The Illusionist showcases an upcoming band not just using ctrl+c, but instead synthesizing the old and the new to create impressive results. The five tracks bridge the gap between the old guard and the new school by combining dense technicality with ethereal sorcery, neoclassical nods, melodic moments, and bludgeoning brutality. The songwriting of yesteryear (remember actual songs?) is used particularly efficiently, but combined with enough dynamic bursts to be surprising. Of special note, the dive-bombing guitar leads marry None so Vile with Goremageddon. For further examples of the necessity of this EP in the collection of any deathfreaks out there, check out the face-stomping slowdown on “Revenge Through Impalement” or the two-part title track that begins with a slow, introspective melodic progression but techs out with professional authority. Continue reading
From the ancient past, from the crumbled temples of ancient deities and forgotten cultures, emanates a wave of pulverizing brutal death metal. Heavy with the breath of yesteryear, the weight of Sarpanitum is upon us…. TDM caught up with guitarist/bassist Tom Hyde (T.H. in the interview) and vocalist/keyboardist Tom Innocenti (T.I.). Continue reading
THE LUCID COLLECTIVE (2014)
Canada, Season Of Mist, Technical Death Metal
I remember the day when I heard first Archspire promo. Then I thought it was some bizarre form of experimental electronic music – most likely, generated by a computer. Then I watched a few clips on Youtube and I was a bit surprised at the idea of practicing such intense death metal art. It turned out that human abilities are not restricted to the extent that “All Shall Align” became our number 1 album in 2011 on technicaldeathmetal.com. With Archspire is a bit like with Rings Of Saturn. Space pace and great intensity causes some black holes. Hence, these teams have enough supporters as opponents. Certain is You can’t be indifferent listening to “The Lucid Collective”. For me it recalls the extreme performances of Jason Becker’s and I’m prone to such virtuosic “destruction”. On the second album the band clearly went toward expanding compositions. Bravely borders on neo-classicism but not as “wide” as Spawn Of Possession. They are rather stroking the genre which is desecrated by routine meltdowns or breakdowns if you prefer. Fortunately, they are not intrusive and too common. Surely we can find a lot more blasts than the first one.
If the band can be both wild and organized then Archspire is. Their music is based on multiple layers and although sometimes it may seem chaotic – it’s just an illusion. Boldly breaking tempo and effectively juggle between crazy percussion escapades and acoustic strokes. Progress is great though their nature has remained the same. Canadians continue to spit out thousands of notes and combine incredible finesse with an interesting everflowing rhythms. They are also a showcase of stop & go craziness. Within one minute a progressive machine turns into a rushing, furious rhythm chaser, which is constantly being raped by a superhuman stops. The enormity of diversity requires us to look forward to the next turn and makes you want more. You do not know what will happen in a moment but You should prepare. This unpredictability pays, grossly increasing the level of extremity. Forget the guitar masturbation. The technique here translates into concrete blast. If you are not discouraged by synthetic drums and insane intensity, it will go downhill. I mention this because, on the one hand it ensures jaw-drop but on the first contact it may seem too dry and processed. If you wade through it then the rest will be pure poetry. The highest form of madness, and probably the best technical album of the year. I recommend!
Rating: 10/10 – Rimmon
“Dense Digital Delusions”
The TDM staff selected All Shall Align as album of the year in 2011, but, unfortunately I must admit that I had not even heard any of the band’s material until the discussion began. Hence, I arrived late for the party. Better late than never though, eh? I made sure not to repeat that mistake this year, and purchased The Lucid Collective on release day.
I had high expectations, not only because of their previous release, but by the band’s posted lineup, which includes eight-string guitar, seven-string guitar, and six-string fretless bass. If that technically inclined setup doesn’t catch the interest of a fan of the music covered here, well, I am not quite sure what would. Except perhaps the mind-expanding, hallucinogenic songwriting on The Lucid Collective.
The record sounds like a robot’s acid trip. Exploratory yet rigid, progressive yet precise, the 34-minute techstravaganza calls to mind if the Borg merged with the Holodeck. Anyone familiar with Archspire should know the collective revels in extremity, and their prowess has only improved by adding dreamlike progressive moments.
If galactic death destruction through extreme musicianship is your thing, or guitar squeals and drum devastation get you all riled up, The Lucid Collective will take your mind to new heights. Mandatory.
Rating: 9.5/10 – Witness to the Void
With all its complexity in the instrumental arrangements, tech-death (to use the layman’s term) needs to transcend the listener’s expectations and thus journey to uncharted realms. Convoluted explanations aside, for a tech-death band to be successful in this niche, a group has to evolve in order to distance itself from more traditional and mainstream genres .Its evolution may be akin to punctuated equilibrium, a process where evolution is steady for quite some time until sporadic stabs of change occur or a band’s evolution may be sudden, diverting its style drastically from its last album. This is where Archspire contributes to the evolutionary process with their newest album The Lucid Collective. It shows signs of a decidedly marked progression with two main factors. First, their vocalist most likely could be considered a death metal rapper, not too dissimilar from The Wu-Tang Clan. His vocal delivery is a razor sharp assault of lyrics, piercing to the listener thus claiming a high degree of audibility. Secondly, and please allow me to deviate from my journalistic voice and exclaim “Holy Crap! The snare! The snare!’It is an instrument all unto its own, completely independent of the drum set, spitting out controlled, albeit chaotic breakneck 32 second note patterns. This continues prevalently on The Lucid Collective, especially on the blistering second track “Scream Feeding” where the snare is hell-bent on beating the listener into a delightful form of mindless slavery. Other tracks such “The Plague of Am” and “Join us beyond” show us so much of what we come to expect and desire from out-worldy tech-death such as this one. There are numerous instances of master-class type sweep picking coupled with a “ lead bass” that is thankfully high in the mix( including a small bass outro at the end of “ Seven Crowns and the Oblivion Chain”).What could be jarring though for neophytes into the extreme metal genre is the tumultuous barrage of accelerated tempo in most of the songs. This is indeed a continuous barrage of sound. Yet, perhaps this is what Archspire desires, setting apart its music from the rest of the genre. I would say this is what the tech-death organism is evolving into. And what a beast it is.
Rating: 10/10 – SilentDeepOcean
Average rating: 9.8/10
The Radial Covenant (2014)
Germany, Self-released, Technical Death Metal
Waiting for a new Obscura album is very similar waiting for a phone call from a potential significant other. Your palms sweat, you dream about what you are going say. And yet, when that call never comes, the heart is left wanting and waiting. I can imagine with quasi-logical conjecture that many tech-death listeners (me included) feel the same way. Obscura’s third album, Omnivium is perpetually in my car stereo with the digital copy playing on several devices that I own. This yearning however was eased significantly when I downloaded ‘The Radial Covenant” by Obscura’s drummer, Hannes Grossman. To be honest, I expected hearing compositions very similar to Obscura’s material, and while I was not too far off the mark, the music on Grossman’s solo album is indeed an unexpected departure from Obscura’s. Using the always effective analogy here (it works for me), this is like dating your spouse’s twin after a divorce, they may look the same but similarities arte only skin deep. Grossman, being one of the best drummers in metal seemed to know that quality begets quality and thus enlisted the help of several technically savvy musicians such as Jeff Loomis (Conquering Dystopia), Per Nilsson (Scar Symmetry), Watchtower’s Ron Jarzombek adding leads and fellow “Obscurians” guitarist Christian Muezner and bassist Linus Klausenitzer. The end result as I alluded to earlier should be familiar to Obscura fans and not surprisingly, the album exudes a plethoric majesty that very well could be considered a contender the best technical death metal album of the year. I write this based on three criteria; first, the production of the album is flawless, due to every instrument occupying its own niche in the sonic spectrum. Klausenitzer’s bass can be heard in equal temperament, which is a godsend in a genre where all the instruments in their “virtuosicity” are vying for equality. As far as the drums are concerned, and Grossman’s highly skillful notwithstanding, they echo the same brilliance shining on Obscura’s Omnivium. Continue reading
Poland, Unquiet Records, Technical Death Metal
Banisher spreads his second attack on the unsuspecting listener. The attack is a very direct one. Rarely gives respite so rested mind will be an advantage here. The first thing that strikes the ears is a massive and well-balanced production. With such intensification, flawless production is mandatory. “Scarcity” is quite specific album. Despite their great potential to manipulate the listener on all sides, this gentlemens play generally straight forward metal. Ofcourse, there is a place for a few tempo breakdowns or frivolous progression but it is only a addition. Therefore, instrumentals like “Vanity” and “Incentives” are a little out of context. I think they don’t fit into the concept and only tries to confirm that Banisher can play “nicely”. Continue reading
HOUR OF PENANCE
Italy, Prosthetic Records, Technical/Brutal Death Metal
Regicide is like an expertly crafted single malt Scotch, in which case Hour of Penance would be an old-fashioned distillery. Similar to an expert producer of the fine elixir from the Islay or Highland region, Hour of Penance have only become more striking and memorable as their 15-year career progresses… unlike the majority of bands which fade to mediocrity. Six albums in and the ecclesiastical crushers keep getting more interesting and refined.
THE MOTHER OF VIRTUES (2014)
United States, Experimental Death Metal, Relapse Records
In the field of music covered by TDM there exists a select few bands that create genuinely disturbing music. Descendants from the likes of Demilich and Gorguts, modern groups such as Gigan, Ulcerate, and Portal cause listeners to feel sincerely uncomfortable. By mixing metal, grind, technicality, doom, noisy metallic hardcore, and general all around weirdness, Pyrrhon’s second full-length The Mother of Virtues takes strange a step further – to stark raving madness.
2011′s An Excellent Servant but a Terrible Master stood out from even unorthodox death metal due to an amalgamation of surging old death/doom, mathcore, and creepiness. The Mother of Virtues furthers this style with more unhinging song mechanics and structures. In the twisted world of Pyrrhon, walls seethe and breathe, while spiders with needles for legs traverse them. This gives birth birth to songs like “Balkanized,” which transmits strangeness incommunicable in conventional description. While many utilize Lovecraftian lore, Pyrrhon incarnates into auditory form his indescribable slices of surreality. Continue reading
CALLED TO RISE (2013)
United States, Technical Death Metal, Unique Leader Records
Descriptions for Oblivion’s debut full-length Called to Rise typically include adjectives not generally associated with the sub-genre of technical death metal, such as “post” and “blackened,” but the most unique element of Oblivion’s galactic spaceship gets left out of said references: classical. Yes, by that we mean like from Beethoven and all those old dudes.
Titles like “Between the Suns of Light” and “Multiverse” call to mind similar cosmonauts The Zenith Passage, a band in which drummer Luis Martinez also plays, or Xenocide, in the use of slight melodic parts. The album title, as well as the spoken word intro, may be the result of bassist Ben Orum, a founding member and primary writer of All Shall Perish. For a well-versed metalhead though, the piece of the five-man lineup that raises eyebrows will be the occupations/alternate pursuits of Dr. Nick Vasallo, a professor of music and modernist composer, and guitarist Victor Dods, who is currently pursuing a PhD in math. That’s some educated death metal right there! Continue reading