Tech Death Thursday: Irreversible Mechanism
Big tech boys Irreversible Mechanism are releasing the followup to their highly-regarded debut in a couple weeks. Brace for change.
- Serocs just released a fearsome new track called, “SCP-106,” presumably about something only a total fukken nerd would know about. The Phobos/Deimos Suite is out on October 26th through Everlasting Spew.
- In case you missed it, The Odious Construct released a juicy new single on Tuesday. It is, by every measure, tech as heck. Look for Shrine of the Obscene on October 12th.
- Beyond Creation also dropped a new single, which continues to carry on their signature tap-heavy warbly sound (which is exactly what I want from Beyond Creation). Algorythm is also out on October 12th.
I always try to judge new music on its own merits, tech death or otherwise, but it’s impossible to talk about the new Irreversible Mechanism without at least a cursory look at their debut. Plus, since we somehow managed to completely miss covering that when it first came out, there’s no time like the present. Infinite Fields made quite the splash when it landed back in 2015, picking up a ton of steam independently and ultimately getting the international duo signed to Blood Music the day before it was set to release, as I recall. While being fairly traditional in terms of structure and overall sound, Fields was incredibly well-written and performed, and the use of keyboards as a primary instrument and driving force gave it a unique texture that set it apart from its contemporaries. It’s not an album that I revisit with any frequency, but it is very much worth a listen for any fan of tech death or guitar acrobatics.
Having made such a huge impression (as of this writing, it has 854 purchases on Bandcamp alone), it should go without saying that the band’s sophomore effort has been pretty hotly anticipated. The writing and performing chops were there, and with such a unique sound established on the debut, seeing that formula refined and embellished would be incredible. However, if you were one of the many waiting for such a thing… well, I have good news and bad news.
You see, when I said “the new Irreversible Mechanism” at the start, I meant that in about as literal a sense as you can get. One half of that original duo, bassist Yaroslav Korotkin, left the band awhile back. Remaining guitarist Vladislav Nekrash has since filled out the band to include a full lineup, recruiting Ne Obliviscaris drummer Dan Presland as a session musician for Immersion. In a reflection of that lineup change, the band’s sophomore effort sounds so entirely different from their debut that it really does feel like a completely different band.
The band’s new sound moves at a much more reserved pace; it’s still fast, but it’s not the hurricane of riffs that defined the debut. The synths are largely relegated to big, spacey, ethereal chords for atmosphere, completely ditching the grandiose orchestrations. I am of a mixed mind about this; the cynic in me says this is the most obvious case of trend-hopping in the world, given the huge rise in atmospheric tech death’s popularity the past couple years. As one fan on Blood Music’s Facebook page said, it “follows all the rules” of the current tech death scene. Which makes sense; given how much the landscape has shifted in the three and a half years since they debuted, why wouldn’t they update their sound to remain relevant? Gotta keep those big (well, relatively big) sales numbers rolling, after all, regardless of how much of your identity you have to sacrifice in order to do so.
That said, the optimist in me wonders if that even matters at all; after all, the music should be judged on its own merits, right? And in terms of atmospheric tech death, Immersion is good. Really, really good. The album’s press release pitches them as contenders for Fallujah and Rivers of Nihil’s thrones, but substantial chunks of it are much more in line with Virvum’s Illuminance. Whereas the former two albums rely heavily on feeling to move forward, Illuminance uses atmosphere as a shell to encase its riffs. Immersion combines the best of both worlds; there are still floaty nonfunctional harmonies and quieter, thoughtful moments, but the music is also upbeat, adventurous, and exciting. It’s an album that will leave you feeling somehow both pumped and meditative at the end.
And of course, the performances are still immaculate. The strings players continue to bring the shred, though it’s tempered by the album’s greater emphasis on emotion and focused by its core narrative. Anyone familiar with NeO already knows how good a drummer Dan Presland is, and the new vocalist is much more robust as well, even bringing some solid clean singing to the table this time around. The layers of keys can obfuscate the rest of the instrumentals at times, but it’s by and large a pleasant listen.
So what’s the takeaway from all this? Should we lament the loss of the old Irreversible Mechanism or celebrate the birth of the new? That’s something that will vary from listener to listener, but I think it’s going to be a little bit of both for most everyone. While it’s a shame to see them abandon so much their roots so quickly, it’s hard to deny the quality of Immersion. It walks a well-traveled path to be sure, but I found myself caught up in the adventure nonetheless.
Is your band tech as heck? Got a juicy piece of news or an upcoming release to watch? Send it my way at email@example.com and I’ll check it out. I might even talk about it.