Tech Death Thursday: Empirine and Cordura
You desperately need these bands in your lives. Empirine and Cordura are bringing the tech this week!
Your weekly tech death news:
- Deeds of Flesh has a studio update you can check out here. Guitarist Craig Peters also goes pretty in depth with his songwriting method and recording process in the video, and I’d recommend giving it a listen if you’re planning on recording yourself and need some pointers.
- Deathcore dudes The Voynich Code dropped a new album last Friday. I like what I’ve heard quite a bit; they play to many of the conventions of the genre, but their music never sounds thing or short of substance. Check out “I, The Weak” and pick up the full album at Primordial Records.
- Inanimate Existence have posted a couple previews of their new album, the most recent being here. I may not have been particularly keen on Calling from a Dream, but the new material sounds like they’re bringing the old stuff together with the new in a very effective way. They’ve also got a tour that they’ll be announcing today; dates aren’t up as of this writing.
First on the docket is Empirine, a progressive melodeath unit from Sweden. These guys put out the excellent and sorely underappreciated The Vermilion King in 2015, which married mid-paced tech death to devilish synths and spacey electronic vocals. Revenant hits a few of the same beats, but the duo have changed up their sound a fair bit. The first thing you’ll notice on “The Revenant” is that it’s a lot more chill than the usual Tech Death Thursday fare, baring more in common with Insomnium or Aphotic Veil than anything. While the album carries this reserved feeling throughout, it never feels like it’s slow or dragging. There are even a couple moments where the band takes cues from dissonant death metal acts such as Ulcerate for some surprising dark twists.
It’s these twists that I feel land the group in prog territory. There aren’t any of the usual hallmarks of a typical prog metal band- no odd time signatures, no sudden shifts in tempo or feeling- but the band mixes things up in other ways. Turns come in the places you’d expect, but they use some unconventional chord changes and progressions to keep things interesting. They’ve doubled down on the vocoder-laden vocals, using them to produce otherwise impossible vocal melodies rather than for simple effect. I wouldn’t say they do anything particularly innovative, but it’s a fresh take on existing ideas. All in all, Revenant is a pleasant and succinct album that showcases a new side of the band, and I look forward to seeing where Empirine go next.
Our next band is one I only recently discovered, but I’m very excited about. Slovenia’s Cordura spans the whole breadth of the tech death timeline with their unique sound, paying homage to the bands of the past while maintaining a modern mindset. Pantheon of Bionic Gods serves as an excellent primer on how to draw influence from a band without ripping them off; while it’s clear that there are a number of groups the band has been inspired by, they don’t truly sound like a single one of them. They take the familiar and make something entirely new from it.
Right from the start, Cordura establish a sense of grandness and anticipation. “Prime” opens up with a slowly building bass line and synths gradually layering over each other, a simple harmonized guitar lead fading in and out over low narration. It sets the stage perfectly for the monstrous, chaotic riff that follows (plus it sounds like something straight out of a Metroid game), and the rest of the song continues to build in a similar fashion. From here on out, the album doesn’t let up. The riffs are huge and serpentine, with incredible solos and leads weaving in and out of the fracas. The rhythm section is nothing to scoff at, either; the drums do more than simply supplement the riffs, almost feeling like a separate melody unto themselves, and the bass goes blow-for-blow with the guitars.
While it’s usually apparent that the riffs were written by a modern band, the structure of the songs follow an old framework. It feels like a natural progression of the “riff salad” approach to songwriting, laid down by such bands as Death and Atheist. There are lots of sudden jumps and jaunted, halting moments, but they feel much more focused and coherent than their predecessors. It’s what I imagine Vale of Pnath would sound like if they were forced to listen to nothing but Chuck Schuldiner riffs for a week, somehow both smooth and chunky. Pantheon of Bionic Gods is an album for all fans of tech death, and might even draw in some new listeners; don’t skip this one.
I hope you guys found something to enjoy this week; Empirine is a unique band with a solid catalog, and I firmly believe that Cordura is one of the best bands I’ve ever covered during my Toilet tenure. Do them a favor and pick up album, and swing by their Facebook pages and say hi. That’s all for this week, and until next time,
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