Tech Death Thursday: A Novelist

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Get your tech on with A Novelist. Just one. It’s just one novelist.

Some tasty tidbits:

  • The aptly-named Brutality have premiered a new song from their forthcoming album Sea of Ignorance, due out sometime next year. Check it out here.
  • I don’t recall the ancient Egyptians ever being in space, but I’ve been wrong before. Turn to Blade of Horus’s new album Monumental Massacre (out January 29th) for a history lesson, and listen to their new song here.
  • New Obscura song. You may want to lay some towels down for this one; the guitar solo will spatter your brains across the floor.
  • Son of Aurelius vocalist Riley McShane has officially joined the ranks of Allegaeon. Judging by their live video for “Grey Matter Mechanics,” it sounds like he’ll be a perfect fit for the band.
  • Tired of purple swirly shit in space? Try some purple swirly shit in the deep sea! Check out “Back to Hadatopia” by Atlantis Chronicles, and look for Barton’s Odyssey on March 26th.
  • Newcomers Essomonic have an EP coming… sometime. Give “Studies of God” a listen while you wait for a release date.

There are few things that I enjoy more than an album coming completely out of nowhere, slapping me in the face, and screaming “WITNESS ME!” before blowing my mind for its duration. Portraits is just such an album. Opening track “A Progression of Hands” sounds like it was pulled straight from a film noir, save for the lack of a hard-boiled detective monologing over the top. It suddenly bursts into “Rectilinear Acceleration,” a vicious technical assault driven by dueling guitar leads and a cascade of blastbeats.

I suppose this is a good point to say that parts of Portraits are about as technical as they come without straying into Brain Drill/The Ritual Aura territory. Those of you with no stomach for sweep picking will likely not make it more than a few seconds into the first full song. However, those of you who do delve further will find it quite rewarding. The album finds its home between pure tech death mindfuckery and cerebral prog, occasionally jumping completely into one territory or the other and often multiple times in a single song. In either instance, there’s a lot of jazz influence on display here, from chromatic harmonized runs to bizarre chords to off-kilter arpeggio structures. The latter half of the album is particularly jarring, with a lot of sudden jumps in tempo and time signature. Despite that (or perhaps because of it), the songs never wear out their welcome, even at six-plus minutes in length.

One of the things that stood out to me the most was the vocals. Even with the amount of crazy shit going on underneath them, I couldn’t help but admire their presence and versatility. Ben Nugent has a nasty scream, but his cleans are equally impressive. Though they only appear a couple times throughout the album (most notably on “The Hall”), they were certainly a highlight.

Portraits is out now and available here. Don’t forget to give A Novelist some Toilet love on Facebook.

Until next time,

Stay Tech

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