Tech Death Thursday: Atvm – Famine, Putrid and Fucking Endless

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It’s putrid as fuck this Tech Death Thursday. Let’s get funky.

We’ve got a weird one on deck for you today, folks, and it’s weird in all the fun ways. We’re not talking weird in the sense that it’s ear-splitting dissonance or requires a PhD in music theory to truly appreciate; no, this is weird in ways that invokes grooving and headbanging as much as head-scratching confusion. Today, we’re talking about Atvm, a band I knew nothing about prior to yesterday and continue to know nothing about now save for the fact that they know how to write a fucking jam.

Two things to note right away: first, the mix and master received the gold touch of Colin Marston, so you know this thing sounds fantastic. Each instrument pops, but leaves space for the others to do their thing without smothering the mix. The bass sounds particularly good; it punches through where necessary, but the mix really lets the dynamics of the performance shine through, so you can really feel it when the bassist himself is playing particularly hard.

The other thing to note here is that Atvm’s sound feels more rooted in old-school tech death, sharing more of their DNA with acts like Atheist or Martyr than something like Necrophagist or Archspire. That’s not to say there aren’t newer acts that you could compare this to- Xoth and Beyond Creation come to mind, and some of the thrashy parts share similarities with Horrendous (see “Vagh Nakh”)- but the songwriting philosophy has a distinct “classic” feel to it. This is a band that doesn’t sound like they’re trying to play to any particular style or attempting to mimic another act; the compositions are as organic and dynamic as the production. From a high level, this is structured more or less how one would expect a prog death album to be. It’s when you get down to the little details that things really start to get interesting.

Searching for the acts that directly influenced the band might be a fruitless endeavor, and besides, it’s way more interesting to just roll with it all and see what happens. The stylistic influences on this album are all over the place, and it’s kind of a miracle that Famine, Putrid and Fucking Endless is as coherent as it is. Seriously, this album does everything; you’ll be jamming along to the trash-touched death metal parts, but wait a minute, did that riff in “They Crawl” have a trad metal tinge to it? That swinging riff on “Slud” has a bluesy classic rock feel, but also there’s a funky slap bass part in “Picture of Decay?” And boy, that clean prog part sure sounded like it came straight out of David Gilmour’s playbook. How does this album work?

That right there is the genius of this album: all of these disparate sounds, this mishmash of styles of various guitar-driven music, are filtered through the lens of death metal to bring it all together. The band doesn’t segregate all of these bits into distinct sections; you won’t be listening to it going, “Here’s the prog part, now here’s the jazz part, now here’s the rock part.” As amusing as, say, a straight-up country breakdown in a Killitorous song can be, this isn’t that kind of experience at all. Moments like that are intentionally done to pull you out of the experience and ask yourself what the fuck is happening. What Atvm does is the opposite, weaving it all together with such fluidity that you might not even realize what you heard until it already passed.

While I may not have had the time I normally like to sit and let an album stew before reviewing it, I couldn’t help but jump on this one right away. It’s already passed the second listen test; I hit play on it again almost immediately after my first spin, and it got more interesting, which is almost always the mark of a quality album. Time will tell of course, but I get the distinct feeling that this one is going to weather months of spins before it starts to feel worn.

Famine, Putrid and Fucking Endless is available now on Bandcamp. You can also find Atvm on Facebook; give them a shout out for putting out such a banger first full-length. That’s all I’ve got for now, and until we meet again,

Stay Tech

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