Tech Death Thursday: Karmacipher – Introspectrum

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This Friday, July 3rd, Bandcamp is once again waiving their typical fee, meaning all proceeds go directly to the artist. As you may be aware, we are still in the middle of a worldwide pandemic, regardless of how much the US government might think otherwise. As such, there are a lot of artists who are getting hit hard in the pocketbook, and I imagine that eastern Asian bands are feeling it particularly hard. As such, today we’re talking about Karmacipher’s newest.


First up is Hong Kong’s Karmacipher, who some of you may already know as Ulcerate’s angrier little brother. While that descriptor still rings true, this upstart disso-death band has been gradually carving out their own identity in this death metal niche. Fans of the latter will feel right at home with Karmacipher’s sound, losing themselves in the ringing hazy chords and dense atmosphere, but they’ll also notice some key differences that separate them from their progenitor.

The primary distinguishing factor here is Karmacipher’s riff-driven approach to their music. While many bands of this nature lean most heavily into bleak ambiance, Karmacipher has always been a little more down-to-earth than many of their contemporaries. While there’s still plenty of that discomforting ambiance, much of the music is pushed forward by more structured- and more memorable- guitar work, careening between caustic chords with wild tremolo riffs and cascading blast beats. Songs like “None” and “Revertant” give you the best of both worlds, expertly blending their absurd riffing prowess and menacing atmosphere.

Second is the way they approach that atmosphere, perhaps the most distinguishing aspect of dissonant death metal. While Ulcerate and their ilk tend to favor the mid- to upper-range of their instruments to create an airy sense of disorientation, Karmacipher prefers to lurk in the lower register, only occasionally surfacing for a gasp of acrid air. They also like to utilize a call-and-response between the two guitars, giving their music a greater sense of scope. It might not sound like much on paper, but in execution, it feels very different from the bulk of other bands in the genre. It also makes those few times when they do venture into the higher register that much more impactful, particularly when the band throws a total curveball at the end of “Involuntary Converged” and goes into a major key post-metal kind of thing.

Now obviously this album isn’t going to be for everyone. If you’re already averse to dissonant death metal, this likely will do little to change your mind; while you might appreciate some of the riffs, the core of the music is still all about making big ugly sounds. If you’re on the cusp, though, Introspectrum would be a great gateway album to the genre. Otherwise… I dunno, the vocals are a little monotonous, I guess? The record’s flaws are so few and far between that they’re overshadowed entirely by its strengths.

What can I say? Introspectrum is one of my favorite releases of 2020 so far, and I’d go so far as to say it’s the best disso-death album of the year thus far as well. Grab yourself a copy on Bandcamp through Infree Records and check out Karmacipher on Facebook. That’s all I’ve got for now, so until next time,

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