Tech Death Thursday: Aronious – Perspicacity
It’s tech time, nerds. Get ready for some weedlies.
It has been a hot second since last talked about Green Bay, WI tech-metallers Aronious. It’s been approximately ten years since we premiered “Delusions of Superiority” last December, and I never really gave their latest album, Perspicacity, it the attention it deserved. I’m not really sure why I slept on it so long given the strength of their debut, but we’re rectifying that today.
When I last talked about Aronious, I mentioned that Perspicacity was going to sound much like its predecessor, albeit with the screws tightened up. That’s true to an extent; the band still revels in sharp aural contrasts, offsetting hazy, almost sludgy chords with a precise staccato attack that keeps the music feeling punchy. These complex fretboard dances pierce skyward through the murky lows, a pairing of ominous melody and harsh dissonance. It clashes, but it works.
It’s a sound that’s going to be familiar to many longtime tech death fans, pioneered by Spawn of Possession and carried on by the likes of Virulent Depravity and Serocs. The primary differentiating factor here is their speed; while it might sound like a nominal difference, it has a huge effect on the feel of the album. The aforementioned acts all tend towards balls-to-the-wall insanity, going as fast and furious as possible, whereas Aronious takes a more even-tempered approach. The majority of Perspicacity sits at a comfortable allegro- fast, but not too fast- generally hovering around 150 BMP with the occasional burst upwards. The band uses this to great effect: it allows them to make their riffs more complex, but the lower speed (relatively speaking) also allows the ear to parse through them more easily. Combined with the natural groove of this tempo range (it’s perfect headbanging speed), it makes the music catchy in spite of its incredible complexity.
This level of consistency does come with a bit of a drawback, however. On one hand, the album is a very cohesive listen; each song feels like it fits a central unifying musical theme as it does lyrically, exploring the advancement (and degradation) of humankind. Unfortunately, that means it robs some of the songs of their individual identity. Most of them flow into one another, broken up by mid-album instrumental duo “Modernity,” and it can be hard to parse out where one ends and another begins if you’re not actively watching the tracks advance.
This, however, is much more likely to be a problem for people who aren’t accustomed to sitting down for 60+ minute prog monoliths; for most regular tech death listeners, I imagine it’ll be a non-issue. It’s ultimately a small sacrifice in service of maintaining a strong musical concept, and even if you don’t care about that, the music is good enough on its own to carry it through. Whether you listen to it all in one go or break it up into chunks it’s a mighty enjoyable listen and one of this year’s highlights of technical death metal.