Perfect Match: Tech Death
In this edition of Perfect Match, Spear receives a request from a metal fan that wants to explore the techier side of metal. Will his advice help her get, and hopefully, stay tech? Find out now!
“Hi, this is a fun idea! I could use help with tech death.
My enjoyment of death metal in general doesn’t extend far beyond classics like Deicide, Death, Carcass. I’ve tried my damnedest to enjoy stuff like Opeth and Nile, and it’s ok but totally forgettable to me. I had a brief Children of Bodom period, but I’m over it now.
I’m curious about tech death because I actually really like Rings of Saturn (I know, I know…), so where do I go from there? I guess I like their guitar timbres much more than generic lead guitar squeelies. I definitely like interesting record production, too.
Some of my all time favorite bands include Voivod and Anaal Nathrakh, so…I guess I’m looking for tech death with more interesting sounds? Breakdowns a plus. Melodic vocals a minus.
Well, Princess, that’s quite the eclectic mix of references. I don’t think there’s one single all-encompassing band I could name that would be able to sound like all of that at once, but that does give me a lot to work with. We’ll attack this from a bunch of different angles and see if anything sticks for you.
Since you’re into Death, we’ll start there. Being one of the forerunners of the genre, it’s no surprise that there are a bunch of tech bands out there that use them as their primary influence. Atheist and early Cynic both offer good albums to start branching out with, and the Dharmata half of Defeated Sanity’s last album might tickle your fancy, but I think you’ll get the most mileage out of Contrarian. While the super deep, throaty vocals might not be your thing, the instrumentation is where it’s at. Its unconventional riffs and affinity for fifths harmonies over the typical thirds is extremely evocative of mid- to late-years Death, and that oldschool prog death bass tone is oh so tasty. There’s a bit of an atmospheric element as well, but it’s all done with bass and guitars; no cheesy synths to be found here. Check out Polemic and see if it does anything for you. If you’re on board, they’ve also got a new one on the way this Friday.
Regarding Rings of Saturn, I’ve never been much of a fan, but I enjoyed their latest album a fair bit. It’s far more traditionally “tech death” than there previous efforts, so it’s a no-brainer as far as your getting into the genre is concerned. If all you wanted was tangles of weedlies, Brain Drill and Vimana would be your best bet, but neither of them offer the same razor-sharp, operating-table-clean production as RoS. Instead, let’s turn to The Ritual Aura, specifically their debut. Laniakea demonstrates their musicianship is on par with the latter (if not superior), and they do some pretty similar alien-sounding things as well- check out the tapping section about a minute and a half into “Ectoplasm.” This first song gives you a pretty good picture of what the album’s all about, so if you dig, dive on in.
So Voivod is one of your favorite bands ever? This one’s easy: look no further than Martyr, featuring Voivod’s own Chewy on guitar and vocals. The band gives you basically everything you could want out of a tech death album as a Voivod fan; off-kilter riffs, crossoverish vocals, and a general sense of weirdness pervasive throughout. It’s progressive and bizarre, but surprisingly palatable; this is a good starting point for anyone interested in the genre, other tastes aside. Unfortunately, Martyr is now defunct, but they at least gave us three awesome albums during their run. Feeding the Abscess is their most recent and probably their most well-known; I recommend you start here and work your way back, but you can’t really go wrong any way.
Hopefully at least one of these will be the tipping point for you. I know tech death can be a hard sell for a lot of people for a variety of reasons, but I firmly believe that there’s a tech band out there for everyone. It might take some patience and a few listens to really get into an album, but once it clicks, the genre has a ton of fun music. That’s all I’ve got; if anyone else has a favorite tech death band or album, especially if it’s not your genre of choice, feel free to chime in and lend a hand.
That’s it for this week folks, if you’d like to participate in a future episode all you’ve gotta do is send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org (make the subject/heading ‘Perfect Match’) and tell us your target genre/style along with a little description of what your tastes/expectations are. Maybe include 3 bands you currently dig & why, and we’ll find your perfect match!