Tech Death Thursday: Get Prep’d Q1 2020
I’m hijacking Lacertilian’s long-dormant “Get Prep’d” series to highlight some upcoming tech releases. The next couple months are looking absolutely stacked, so hopefully this will help you keep track of what to look out for.
We’re starting things off today with Wormhole, as their album releases next week and is the only one I’ve heard in full on this list as of now. For the uninitiated, Wormhole is a tech/slam band with some serious talent behind it, featuring members of Cognitive, Equipoise, and Perihelion. The Weakest Among Us hits next Tuesday, and there are a couple preview tracks out to whet your appetite.
I would describe the band’s previous effort, Genesis, as “aggressively okay.” It’s not that there was anything really bad about it, but it didn’t really do much to stand out to my ears. The more melodic sections were an unexpected and pleasant surprise, but they were relatively few and didn’t really do anything particularly interesting. It’s more or less “what if The Faceless but slam,” and while there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s also nothing you wouldn’t have heard before (though maybe not all at once).
Suffice to say that The Weakest Among Us is a huge step up in basically every way, with the biggest upgrade going to the songwriting. It feels like a lot more care and effort has gone into each song, and the result feels like a prog death record that just happens to slam. The melodies are far more complex and captivating, creating an atmosphere that is both bleak and crushing. Don’t worry, though; it still sounds like it was written by cavemen, but they’re cavemen with PhD’s. There are still more than enough slams to go around, and not only are they better integrated with the melodic bits, but they have more direction and identity than the fairly generic beatdowns of its predecessor. It’s a good time all around and well worth the listen if you like your slam with a little brains behind it.
Not everyone digs slam, however, and I know a lot of you are just in this for the tech. For our next act, we’re not only going more tech, but a little closer to home for me. Green Bay’s Aronious are one of the newest additions to The Artisan Era’s roster, the perfect home for their forward-thinking style of tech death. I’ve talked about these guys a couple times before (including a premiere of the first single from this upcoming release), so if you’re not familiar with them, that’s entirely on you. Shame. SHAME!
Anyway, the band’s 2014 album was a different beast for sure. The music was pretty typical tech death fare from a structural standpoint – its various twists and turns were all predictable, and the riffs were as wild and finger-breaking as one could want from tech – but the feel of the music is what really set it apart. The backbone of the riffs was in low-tuned rumbling grooves, its musculature and nervous system formed by a mixture of complex leads and hazy chords. At the risk of sounding negative, Perspicacity sounds like it’s going to be more of the same, though more refined than its older brother. Lest that be construed as a bad thing, I’m all for it; Truth In Perception was a monster album with a distinct identity, and I’m all for more of that. My only concern is that the lyrics will dip a little bit into r/iamverysmart territory, but that’s easily forgivable if the music is all this good.
Now if you’re looking for something that leans a bit more in a normal death metal direction, you’re going to want to pay attention. Another recent Artisan Era signing, Sutrah is hands-down one of the best progressive death metal acts to have formed in the last decade, and I know I shouldn’t be playing favorites, but this is easily the album I’m most excited for among the bands featured today. This teaser has been the best 62 seconds of my day:
Long story short, Sutrah plays big-boy death metal steeped in Cynic-style prog, but with a unique sonic identity. Imagine if Contrarian followed in the steps of acts like Lykathea Aflame and Mithras, combining monstrous, heavy riffs and insane drumming with a hefty dose of musical mysticism. I could say more, but this album needs to be heard to be believed. If you want to read more about it, Link did a fantastic review and an interview with the band a couple years back. They’re very much worth the read, and Dunes is very much worth the listen. It’s heavy, it’s powerful, it uses major scales. What else could you want? Aletheia is a couple months out yet, but I could not be more hyped for it.
Finally, we’re taking a look at a record that should be on all you melomaniac’s radars. Odious Mortem hasn’t had a new album since 2007, but we’re right on the cusp of a new release. I haven’t had the time to sit down and give Synesthesia the listen it deserves, but based on what I’ve heard thus far, it’s shaping up to be a monster of an album.
The touchstones that most readily come to mind for these guys are of the melodic-but-heavy persuasion; they’d fit right alongside a bill featuring Decrepit Birth and Arkaik. While Odious Mortem themselves maybe aren’t quite that heavy, they make up for it with pure ferocity; it’s melodic tech death to be sure, but it’s delivered harder and faster than many of their compatriots could ever hope for. Guitar solo enthusiasts should be especially excited; the leads on this record are pure madness, and I’ve found myself skipping backwards a minute just to hear them again. You won’t have to wait long for this one, either, as it lands next Friday on Willowtip.
That’s all I’ve got time for right now. There are plenty more tech death records on the way in the next couple months (apologies to Schizogen and Xenobiotic– I’ll get to you soon), but these four are sitting the highest on my personal to-listen list. Let me know if there are any other records I should be aware of! Until next time,