Tech Death Thursday: Blackwater Burial – The Prison of Belief

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Big boy melo-tech incoming. Brace yourselves.

First, some news:

  • Arkaik got signed to The Artisan Era and dropped a new single. The song rules, and it’s going to make the wait for their new album that much harder.
  • Allegaeon recently announced the second leg of their Apoptosis tour, and this time around, they’re being joined by Inferi and Paladin. Dates can be found right here.
  • Vitriol put out a playthrough for their song “Crowned in Retaliation.” I was unaware they had any new material in the works, and this has me super hyped for it. Look for To Bathe From the Throat of Cowardice on September 6th, out through Century Media.

Let’s dispense with all the nonsense and get straight to the tech.

With the band’s Degraded Being EP debut last January, I had Blackwater Burial pegged as a fairly straightforward, no-frills melodic tech death band. Not that that’s a bad thing by any means, as it sounded like they eschewed experimental songwriting to laser-focus on honing their craft. With only two songs, they already showed considerable promise, and The Prison of Belief delivers on that promise.

Archetypal as the music is, Blackwater Burial has a strong grasp of makes the genre mainstays so good. Fast as intense as it is, complex as gets at times, melody and pacing are given paramount importance. They give their ideas time to properly gestate, building on and revisiting themes and motifs rather than simply ripping through one riff to get to the next. For example, “Cerebral Peptides” revisits and reiterates upon its clean intro and opening arpeggios multiple times, slightly changing them each time. There’s substantial variety in song structure and feel as well, ensuring that it never gets repetitious. The intro to “Erase” is a great example of how to make slow technical music, and “Degraded Being” mixes things up with some sweet proggy melodies.

Through all of this, the band crafts a distinct sonic identity as well. Shades of Necrophagist and Obscura color their melodies, but the delivery is uncharacteristically ferocious of this particular subset of tech death bands. In that sense, Blackwater Burial is akin to a more melodic Deviant Process; the instrumental work carries a ton of motion, but the tension they build tends to resolve in more conventionally satisfying ways than the latter group. “Ageless Nameless” embodies this perfectly, shifting methodically between 6/8 and 4/4 through its ascending melodies and dropping into a powerful driving riff.

Even the guitar solos have a lot more personality than most bands can manage. Shredding at max speed is impressive to a point; the real art is knowing when not to go all-out. Blackwater Burial’s lead guitarist(s?) excel at this. It’s easy (and tempting) to just fire through as many notes as possible, but that almost always results in interchangeable solos. Each lead on Prison feels perfectly tailored to the song, never once breaking the flow or feeling out of place. Once again, it all comes back to pacing, one of this album’s biggest strengths.

While it doesn’t go out of its way to break any boundaries, The Prison of Belief is a fantastic album. It’s fast and technical without going overboard, and each individual song feels like a standout track in its own right. If you like tech death in any of its myriad forms, you owe it to yourself to listen to this one. You can pick it up now via Putrid Coffin Records, and you can follow the band on Facebook. That’s all I’ve got for you this week, so until next time,

Stay Tech

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