Tech Death Thursday: Astringency
Three months into 2018 and we’re still unearthing good tech from last year. Astringency put out a debut that we totally missed, so let’s dive into it today!
- Burial in the Sky have a new teaser out featuring the saxophonist who appeared on the last Rivers of Nihil album, garnering an immediate and hearty “FUCK YEAH” from me. Look for Creatio et Hominus this June if you’re into spacey prog death.
- Ryan McNatt of Enigma posted a very serious audition video for The Faceless. Very newsworthy, trust me.
- Æpoch have premiered the third and final single from their upcoming album, Awakening Inception, and it’s a nasty one. Full album out on April 13th.
- The new Alkaloid song thoroughly tickles my prog pickle. FFO: Redemptor, Noneuclid, Yes. Look for Liquid Anatomy on May 18th.
- Inferi want you to know they are still the kings of tech death. Revenant lands on April 21st.
- The new Augury album is now streaming in full, so be sure to queue that up for when you’ve got some time for it. This one is best consumed with a focused listen the first time around; check out last week’s TDT for a more thorough examination of it. Illusive Golden Age comes out tomorrow.
Ah, 2016. A simpler time; we were younger, so full of hope and vigor and… actually, scratch that. Everything sucked then, too; we were just in a whole lot of denial. Everything except the music, that is, Astringency not excepting. I caught wind of them in November of that year with “Of Adoration and Effervescence,” after which they completely fell off my radar. Turns out they just released their debut in October of last year, and I’m glad I came across it again.
Sanguinarium runs the gamut of melodic tech death tropes, but does it in a way that doesn’t feel contrived or stale. The band’s style isn’t far removed from Arsis; it’s very active music, with lots of evil-sounding dueling guitars and spectacular solos, peppered with neoclassical elements, counterpoint, and the occasional progressive time signature. To that end, they also avoid what is probably the most common pitfall that catches bands of this sort in that they don’t really have a default sound. A lot of these melodic tech bands have a structural fallback that they build the bulk of their music around, resulting in songs that, while usually competent (and even pretty good at times), start to blend together after awhile.
What Astringency gives us is an album that is stylistically focused while being structurally diverse. “Consummation” opens the proceedings with a proper showcase of each member’s talents as well as their songwriting chops. There’s a hefty dose of those shreddy guitars, plus some sweet bass arpeggios and an absolutely raging drum performance. The song itself is equal parts bouncy melodeath and crawling doom, both of which flow smoothly into and out of each other. “Emperors of the Black Cloth,” “Ravaging the Dell,” and “Gates of Eternity” bring some scorching thrash riffing into the fold, while “Elixer” and “Sanctum of Serpents” show off the versatile progressive side of the band. Each song brings something new and distinct, each of them standing clearly as its own entity without deviating too far from the band’s core identity. Plus, it’s just a lot of fun; these songs are built to jam out to, and the pacing ensures you’re never going to be overwhelmed by too much noodling or get bored with self-indulgent prog odysseys.
That is, until you get to the last song. The only black mark of any substance against Sanguinarium lies in “Equanimity,” the album’s monolithic 19-minute closing track. It’s a massive instrumental prog tune that explores a wealth of ideas that just kind of meander towards the ending. To be fair, they’re all good ideas, but they all come one after the other until the song just kind of ends. I feel like it would have been better served if the band split it into three or four smaller songs and fleshed out each of them individually, possibly releasing it as its own EP if they wanted it to retain a somewhat singular nature. It’s especially confusing since the song preceding it feels like a natural stopping point for the album; maybe this was at one point going to be its own release? Fortunately, that also means that it doesn’t detract from the 10 songs leading up to it- you can stop after “Sanctum of Serpents” and still have a satisfying listening experience.
All told, it’s a solid debut from a band that shows a lot of promise. Sanguinarium is available at name-your-price on Bandcamp, and you can show Astringency your support on Facebook as well. That’s all for this week; until next time,
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