Tech Death Thursday: Beyond Creation – Algorythm
Beyond Creation, the big daddies of the current prog death scene, have a new album out. Let’s see how it stacks up to their first two.
For as much great progressive death metal as we’ve gotten this year, the releases from a couple of my favorite big-name bands have been… less than perfect, let’s say. Obscura’s Diluvium was a lukewarm, bloated monstrosity that meandered aimlessly for its duration (disappointing after the brilliance of Akróasis). Alkaloid’s Liquid Anatomy put forth an absolutely incredible front half before immediately hitting a brick wall, its latter side vacillating between frustrating and redundant (it’s fine, I’m fine). So let’s make it a hat trick! How about you, Beyond Creation? Can you complete the holy trinity of disappointment?
Before we get to anything else, let’s address the biggest point of worry for most of the band’s fans: the new bassist. As you’re likely aware, Dominic Lapointe’s otherworldly bass playing was a key component of Beyond Creation’s unique sound, and he left the band three years ago. His successor, Hugo Doyon-Karout, is more than suited to the role. Hugo’s playing style is lyrical where Dominic’s was frantic with an equally strong grasp of melody and progression, and he brings a few new tricks to the table. He fits, but he’s different enough to be refreshing- exactly what you want from a new member in a band of this caliber.
As to the music itself, Algorythm feels in many ways like a continuation of 2014’s Earthborn Evolution, which saw the band graduate from generally weird death metal to the jazz-driven progressive titan we know them as now. All the pieces are still intact here and have seen upgrades in some cases. Their multilayered harmonies are more intricate than their previous two albums, experimenting more with clashing rhythms and differing melody lines, weaving them into a lush tapestry of sound no less pleasing to the ears in spite of the greater complexity. The band’s propensity for lilting rhythms is perfectly complemented by the use of fluid tapped lines and smooth legatos on each of the stringed instruments. No matter how densely packed with notes a passage becomes, it washes over you like water; you’re very unlikely to ever find yourself overwhelmed by what the band is doing.
Despite those small steps forward in the songwriting, the familiarity of the ideas presented on Algorythm ultimately comes to its detriment. Even with the album’s overall darker atmosphere and the occasional Tosin Abasi-like twist in a chord progression, I couldn’t help but feel like the music was simply retreading old ground. It doesn’t help that the introduction of strings falls completely flat, too; every time they popped up, I felt like the music would be made better with their removal. “In Adversity” made for a refreshing change of pace near the end of the album as the band does their best The Zenith Passage impression, but overall, this is by and large more Beyond Creation.
Still, to call this a bad album would be doing it a disservice; it might be a little overly familiar, but when the material it resembles is as good as it is, it’s hard to complain. Earthborn Evolution was a statement, and Algorythm feels like an appendix to that statement. It’s not a huge step forward for the band, but it’s a satisfactory addition to the Beyond Creation canon. Disappointment thoroughly defeated.
Algorythm is out now via Season of Mist. Give Beyond Creation some sweet Toilet lovin’ on Facebook.
Is your band tech as heck? Got a juicy piece of news or an upcoming release to watch? Send it my way at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll check it out. I might even talk about it.