Tech Death Thursday: Inanimate Existence
Inanimate Existence has a new album. DOES IT GOOD? CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT!
- A group of baby reptiles have just put out a song about a Pokemon. Or a black metal band. Or something. In any case, it’s pretty rad.
- Arkaik has a new song out from their upcoming full-length, Nemethia. The video is, uh, bizarre, but the song itself rips. Look for the full album on September 29th.
- Prog death dudes Inverted Serenity have a new album on the way. Check out a brief teaser here and look for As Spectres Wither on October 6th.
Anyone who’s been following TDT lately already knows that I’ve been hyping this album to death, and with its release right over the horizon, you’re going to hear about it one more time. I’ve already talked about how much I love Inanimate Existence and have made my feelings on their last effort clear, so I’m just going to push that all aside and get straight to the point. Underneath a Melting Sky is the IE album we’ve all been waiting for; it develops new facets of the band’s sound without straying too far from the things that made them such a unique group in the first place.
One of the major hallmarks of Inanimate Existence’s music has always been how comparatively dark it is for tech death. Their riffing favors the bottom to low-mid end of their instruments, and the layers of synths and effects-laden clean guitars add a lot of depth to their menacing atmosphere. This is in full force on Underneath a Melting Sky; everything from the music to the vocals to the production feels deep. The thick distortion and perfectly sculpted tone pack the strings with punch, and the dual vocal attack is appropriately monstrous. Soaring leads round out the high end, dipping in and out of each song exactly where they’re needed. “The Old Man in the Meadow” is the only real exception to this, dwelling largely in the midrange with a surprisingly triumphant main theme.
Possibly the most striking aspect of Melting Sky is, oddly enough, its lack of speed. While some might balk at the idea of 200 BPM being “slow,” it’s all about context here. Let’s look at the opening track, “Forever to Burn.” Past its initial burst of tremolo picking and blastbeats, you’re treated to a mid-paced riff that rides over the drums accents on the downbeat. Despite those constant 16th notes on the kick, the half time feel lets you sink into an easily-headbangable groove without losing track of the melody. After that, it cuts down to quarter time with a clean-guitar-driven variation on its opening riff. You’ll also notice here how well the keys interact with the band this time around as the harp accentuates the distorted guitar’s sludgy chord progression. It goes beyond simply being atmospheric and actually draws your attention to the most important parts of that section.
Much of the rest of the album follows a similar flow. There isn’t much in the way of super-fast, super technical parts similar to the first two albums, but they don’t really need to be there. The music is still complex, but it’s been reigned in a bit; it has the tone of the first two albums with the more meditative pace of the third. The opening riff to “Blood of the Beggar” even has a start-stop feel that wouldn’t have been out of place on Calling from a Dream, but their use of rests is far more effective here than on the too-frequent chugs of that album. Even during its craziest solos and most complex rhythms, it never feels excessive, and perhaps more importantly, it never feels empty.
Underneath a Melting Sky is Inanimate Existence’s most focused, complete effort to date; I might even go as far as to say it’s their best. Everything lands exactly as it should: the pacing is perfect, and the album doesn’t outstay its welcome; the production sounds great, giving everything its own distinct voice and space; and the songwriting is fantastic, equal parts catchy and technical. Even the album’s concept (explained here by guitarist Cameron Porras) is pretty cool, and it ties in with the story from A Never-Ending Cycle of Atonement. I know some will miss the intensity of their first two albums and others will want more of the dreamlike quality of their third, but I believe they have struck a solid balance between the two that should please fans of both. Even if you’re not a fan of tech death, check out Melting Sky; I think you’ll find a lot to enjoy here.
Underneath a Melting Sky comes out next Friday, August 25th via The Artisan Era. Check out their Bandcamp and website for all kinds of preorder goodies, and be sure to tell the band “hi” on Facebook. Catch them on tour in September and early October with Arkaik and Alterbeast. That’s all for this week, and until next time,
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