Tech Death Thursday: Abiotic and Demon King
Tech death time, nerds. Strap yourselves in.
- AEpoch released a playthrough of my favorite song from their last record. Highly recommended if you like watching people do sweet shit on their instruments.
- Hatalom has a new single out, and it’s a fair bit different from their previous record. I dig this new melodic direction they’re taking, and I’m looking forward to hearing more.
- I found a new album from this band Withering, and I have no idea where to find them online besides Spotify and Youtube. Pretty solid instrumental shit, and perhaps someone with a bit more time than me can do some digging for a buy link.
I mentioned in our premiere last month that it had been some time since I’d really thought about Abiotic on account of it being a long time since their last album was released. While that’s true, it’s honestly that I was never really a huge fan of the band to begin with. Casuistry suffered from a weird mix, and Symbiosis was way too deathcore for my tastes. While their proficiency as musicians has never been in doubt, they’re just not a band that I’d ever clicked with from a stylistic perspective.
It’s fitting, then, that their album examining the concepts of struggle and rebirth should be the one to change that. Ikigai is a Japanese word meaning “reason for living,” and the album explores that phrase through the eyes of a samurai in his final moments as he sees glimpses of strife from his future lives. As weird (or silly) as that may sound on paper, it makes the lyrics much more personal than those of their previous releases, eschewing the typical tech death Purple Space Shit™ for songs about addiction, climate change, and abuse. It approaches them from a hopeful note, though; despite their struggles, the people (and in one case, the owl) going through these things persevere and come out on the other side.
Musically, Ikigai also represents a reset point for the band. The musical landscape has changed in the years since their last release, and they have changed with it; this is a full-fledged progressive tech death album, and its songs are as varied and nuanced as the lives represented in its lyrics. The depth to which the band delves into each melodic idea is exemplary; taking “Grief Eater, Tear Drinker” as an example, you can hear that dark melody and primary motif established early on, but it’s rarely repeated verbatim, instead going through a number of permutations rooted in the same idea as the song progresses. The light touch of synth chords both provides your ear with a melodic anchor even as the band rips through tremolo riffs and complex arpeggios and lends the song a drifting sensation through the frenzy. “Covered the Cold Earth” takes a more grounded approach to that sound, interspersing its tense, alien melodies with hefty chugging chords that call back to the band’s pure deathcore days (plus it has one of my favorite guitar solos on the album). It’s an excellent combination of the band exploring new territory while playing to what they know, and the blend of ideas old and new works to the album’s benefit.
Ikigai is no slouch when it comes to performance and production, either. The riffs on this album are wild and intense, the solos are consistently as unique as they are shreddy, and even the vocals have a ton more variety than you hear from death metal in general. I’d like to give a particular shoutout to bassist Killian Duarte (also of Scale the Summit) for doing some particularly cool stuff on his instrument; this is definitely an album you can listen to for the bass alone, and I was floored from the moment I heard that lead at the end of the title track onwards. All these performances are brought to life by slick, clean production that I’m sure some of you are going to hate for how clinical it sounds, but I appreciate how well it brings out each instrument. Nothing is buried, everything has its place, and it’s surprisingly dynamic as a whole.
All told, Ikigai is a great record. It’s certainly going to bring in some new fans (myself included), but I don’t feel like it’s too far removed from the band’s roots to alienate older fans, either. It’s just good tech death, progressive, intense, and powerful. It’s an easy recommendation for fans of acts like Xenobiotic or their labelmates Aethereus, but anyone into any side of tech should give this one a listen.
Now, I know some of you just come here to find the best of the best weedlies and deedlies, and our next act very much delivers on that front. Demon King is the brainchild of original Enfold Darkness guitarist Matt Brown, also featuring Malcolm Pugh of Inferi and drummer Jack Blackburn, himself formerly of both the aforementioned acts. It should go without saying that this album shreds incredibly hard, and if you’re a fan of melodic tech death, you should be excited about this.
It should also come as no surprise that The Final Tyranny bears a lot of sonic resemblance to Enfold Darkness, but it’s like it went down a different evolutionary path than the current incarnation of that band. It’s clear that Our Cursed Rapture is a common ancestor of the two, as they share that same lightly blackened melodic propensity. Demon King leans a little harder into the melodic side of things, though, and the shorter format of this release makes listening to it much less of a commitment than Adversary Omnipotent. The “tech” side is a bit more played up as well on “Transmutation of the Artilect,” with some crazy counterpoint guitar work building up into a huge, bombastic bridge. This is evil wizard music at its finest.
While I might not have quite as much to say about this album as Abiotic, make no mistake: this is a fantastic EP. My only real complaint is that it’s too short- I would take a full album of music like this in a heartbeat, and I’d play it into the ground. I mean, I’m going to be playing this into the ground as is, but I’m in desperate need of more Demon King after listening to this. It’s not a bad way to be, and it speaks to a lot of promise that this band holds going forward.
So there you have it; hopefully you can dig at least one of today’s acts. Ikigai and The Final Tyranny both release on February 12th through The Artisan Era, and you can follow Abiotic and Demon King at their respective Facebook pages. That’s all for now, so until next time,