SUSPENDED FROM THE COSMIC ALTAAR (2015)
USA, Manicidic Records, Technical Death Metal
New Jersey’s space-traveling duo (Justin Buell: all instruments; Pete Colucci; vocals) behind Apocarophex transmitted a two-track EP in 2014, Wheels Within Wheels, which set a high standard of virtuoso death metal destruction paired with incredibly unique bellows. And does Suspended from the Cosmic Altaar deliver to techheads eagerly awaiting the full-length?
Yes. Very much yes. Suspended may be the debut of the year. Entrenched in a fuzzy, earthy tone (with a suitably high bass production), Apocrophex stand out from the production line bands that insist on clinical coldness. The duo excel in an area that most groups in the field have never heard of: moderation. Rather than trying to outcalculate Stephen Hawking, Apocrophex focuses on organic riffing, supported by airy sections that allow listeners to gather and recollect (i.e. “Being Dissolved.”) Such moments allow appreciation of the complexity of the music and the underlying melody within it… as opposed to the tactic of flattening the audience with a forgettable, endless stream of notes.
Closer “Exposed Organics” proves a fitting description of the album; unlike a cyborg wearing organic skin atop machine parts, Apocrophex wears machine parts atop an inner working of organic elements, elevating complex songs to catchy memorability. For fans of the sub-subgenre, Suspended from the Cosmic Altaar is a debut that should not be missed.
Reviewer: Witness to the Void
Australia, Prosthetic, Technical Death Metal
A self-titled album anytime after the debut is a bold move, declaring an identity, decrying a specific sound for a group. Doing as much six albums in says something, and a big something, like “Yeah, YEAH, this is what we sound like.” Such may lead an intrepid metalhead to wonder, “What then is said on Psycroptic?”
In a major step up from 2012’s The Inherited Repression, the self-titled record places Psycroptic comfortable at the top of their slicing rage. Perhaps more importantly, it showcases their ability to seemlessly integrate enough pace variety and influences from outside the subgenre to keep the songs interesting.
Techdeath, as style, hasn’t been new for a long time, so it takes something to stand out from the crowd (and we know it is plentiful). Riff salads, fretboard division, calculator crunching, it can all get a bit monotonous… Yet 16 years in the Tasmanian riff tyrants find a way to craft something unique by mixing in thrash, progressive, melodic flourishes, and local flavor amongst flurries of notes and a drum hurricane. Revel in awe on “Curse of Immortality,” an early contender for song of the year. This late-album triumph is a testament to what masters of the genre can accomplish when they take creative liberty.
A complex release, Psycroptic may not click immediately; but it will reward fans of the genre who appreciate the subtleties that separate the top tier from the xerox reproductions. Bold and unflinchingly individual, yet rooted in the subgenre, Psycroptic is why modern technical death metal is worth your time.
Reviewer: Witness to the Void
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 Review: Pyrrhon – The Mother of Virtues
RINGS OF SATURN
LUGAL KI EN (2014)
United States, Unique Leader, Aliencore (Technical Deathcore)
Rings of Saturn seems to attract a variety of detractors for a variety of reasons. However, with Lugal En Ki the band’s enthusiasts and critics alike have a great deal to be impressed with, as the Californian space chroniclers have crafted a much more mature and cohesive release on this third full length.
The 12 tracks are essentially based on a simple dynamic – extreme weedly parts paired against thick, ultra heavy riffs. While seemingly predictable, the oracles of alien destruction augment this with elements of the avant-garde and airy, especially in the form of extra terrestrial noises. Also worth noting, Lugal Ki En details other worldly beings that conquer man and then wage war against angels and demons. Continue reading Review: Rings of Saturn – Lugal Ki En
The process by which TDM calculates annual lists involves numerous people, a points systems, and blind submissions. This takes a lot of time, wracks the nerves, and always results in extended discourse.
However, none of that happened this year, because everyone was busy with other stuff, so now you are stuck with only me, resulting in a best of 2013 list going to press in August. Of 2014. Sorry about that one.
“If it’s so late, why even bother?”
Let me share a short story that, along with some reader comments, rekindled my drive to complete this list. In recent weeks I saw a list that placed Deeds of Flesh in only the honorable mention. On a list of 40! I was livid. I raged. How could the writer miss that!?
In short, I hope this list inspires the same reaction. Or, gets some listeners to check out some new bands. Sorry if I left out your favorite, as I make no claim to having heard all the possible albums (even some of which are covered by other writers on this site, sorry guys)… and if I did, please let me know in the comments.
– Witness to the Void Continue reading The Top Tech in 2013