Tech Death Thursday: Karpathian Relict – Forever Not Yet
Karpathian Relict have returned with their debut album! That will make a little more sense in a minute.
A little bit of news:
- Zac Leaser has a new tune out from his upcoming EP, Arrival. I’m not super keen on how artificial everything sounds, but I’ll reserve judgement until I hear all of it. Look for that on May 4th.
- Purveyors of hideous noise Thoren have a new single out, and it is, as expected, DENSE. Check this one out if you like your music to be nigh-impenetrable.
- Newcomers The Dark Nebula just released their debut EP yesterday. While not the most groundbreaking thing you’ll ever hear, you’ll enjoy it if you want a slightly more subdued take on typical melodic tech death.
I’m pretty excited about this one, largely because I didn’t know it was coming and that it’s quite different from the Karpathian Relict I’m familiar with. Forever Not Yet is Karpathian Relict’s 2011 debut album (then going by the name Orthodox), which was recently re-released at the end of February to very little fanfare. That’s not surprising, given how relatively unknown the band is, but it is a little disappointing; Forever Not Yet is an absolute monster. If you’re not a fan of the usual TDT-featured bands, you’ll want to give this one a listen.
While the band’s sophomore effort, Beyond the Over, was a warm prog-laden adventure with the occasional heavier leaning song, the debut is almost the complete opposite. This is an album that takes the “death” part of their genre descriptor to heart, having more in common with a band like Morbid Angel than Obscura. It’s gritty and abrasive, beating you down with a near constant barrage of down-tuned riffing and beefy growls. It wastes no time in getting things started, “The Dormant Mind” breaking out at top speed after a very brief symphonic intro. Fast as it is, it should be immediately apparent that Karpathian Relict do things a bit differently than a lot of other “fast all the time” bands, namely that they actually know how to write a fucking riff. Paint-by-numbers brutal death bands tend to throw together a note salad and call it a riff, and the melodic-leaning bands like to just machinegun tremolo picking on the root note and call it a day (maybe throwing in a harmonic minor chord and shifting it a half-step to claim a “blackened” descriptor). Karpathian Relict do neither of these things. There’s thought put into these riffs, utilizing syncopation and exploring the fretboard to the fullest, making that incredible speed all the more impressive.
This isn’t to say that Beyond the Over is bereft of more progressive stuff; there are a few moments that hint at where the band would eventually go, particularly on the latter half of the album. The leads are almost all melodic and slightly jazzy, adding a unique flavor to the chaos. “Great Pandemic” breaks away for a clean interlude at its midpoint, and “Morbid Dream” has this weird doomy part in the middle that cuts to the closest thing to a ballad this album has. The album is predominantly nasty death metal, but these parts give it a twist that make it clear that it’s not just a cheap imitation of its influences.
Now, while all the performances here are awesome, there’s one in particular I want to call attention to, one that you’ve probably noticed if you’re already listening. The drums throughout the album are completely insane; think Leon Macey (Mithras, Sarpanitum) levels of intensity. There are plenty of drummers who go fast (see: every Italian death metal band from the last two decades), but being able to maintain that out-of-control feeling while also keeping it feeling fresh is another thing entirely. And, like his stringed counterparts, he brings some jazz playing into the fold on top of it all. At any given point I could turn my attention to the drums, and they’d immediately put a shit-eating grin on my face.
Long story short, I’m really into this album, and I expect a lot of you will be as well. Beyond the Over is one of those albums that should appeal to fans of any type of death metal, tech or otherwise. If you like what you hear, you can pick up the album for a handful of złoty at Bandcamp. Tell them how much their shit rules on Facebook while you’re at it. That’s all for now, and until next time,
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