Tech Death Thursday: New Blood
Prepare your butts, folks. We’ve got a couple albums coming in today from some extremely talented new artists. We’re listening to Harvest Misery and Orchid!
This week’s tech support:
- Godeater has a new song out and it kicks ass. These guys are sounding very promising.
- I hadn’t realized this previously, but everybody except Phil Tougas and Nick Miller is terrible at guitar. Here’s Phil playing through “L’entité” from the last First Fragment album, and there goes my will to ever touch an instrument again.
- Beheaded has a new song up from their upcoming album, Beast Incarnate. Look for that on January 27th via Unique Leader.
- New kings of dissonant death Setentia have released a video for “Beyond Myopic Blame.” If you still somehow haven’t heard this yet, a) shame on you, and b) it’s available at name-your-price on Bandcamp, so now you really have no excuse.
- Maze of Sothoth have released a new song from Soul Demise, their upcoming debut. I hadn’t heard of this band prior to this week, but they sound angry and go fast so I’m into it. Look for Soul Demise on January 9th.
- Transcending Obscurity did an interview with Crator, who put out one of the fiercest tech death albums this year. Check out that interview here and, if you live near Chicopee, Massachusetts, catch Crator live for the first time on January 14th!
I generally try to steer clear of anything tainted with the rancid stench of deathcore, but I’m making an exception this week for Harvest Misery and their self-titled debut. The band sits somewhere between brutal death metal and the latter, but somehow doesn’t really sound like either. It’s far more melodic than that descriptor might suggest, while retaining the trademark groove of deathcore and the technical prowess and vocal approach of brutal death metal. They occupy a sound space that only a handful of other bands fill, such as Monist and Shadow of Intent.
Deathcore’s biggest problems lie in a general lack of consistency coupled with an empty sound. Song structures generally fall into one of two categories; either you’ll have the extended mid-tempo groove with the occasional double- or half-time drop in tempo, or you’ll get something resembling a disjointed OSDM approach, but sticking to a singular theme with homogenized riffs. On top of that, each instrument, including the vocalist, tends to occupy the same frequency range at once, leading to the aforementioned thin sound. Harvest Misery avoids both these major pitfalls; they utilize a fair amount of syncopated and start/stop rhythms common to the genre, but they’re not afraid to build off of and experiment with a theme. The songs and performances all have motion, never lingering in one place or on one idea for too long, ensuring the music doesn’t stagnate. They also throw in some sections that sound a bit closer to standard tech death (“Human Cesspool Intervention” is nuts), showcasing their virtuosity alongside their ability to put together a head-bobbing riff. This approach is what the genre so desperately needs to be interesting, and Harvest Misery absolutely nails it.
If there’s one area where the album falters, it’s (unsurprisingly) in the production. It’s brickwalled to hell and back, and the drums sounded oddly low in the mix, though that may have just been my speakers. All of it’s very digital-sounding, and it actually sounded better on a pair of crappy earbuds than anywhere else I tried to listen to it. The only part that really sounded solid was the vocalist, whose vicious and versatile growl is a surprising highlight of the listening experience. Fortunately, it’s not so bad as to be unlistenable, and the performances more than make up for the production shortcomings. Overall, Harvest Misery is a very solid album that should not be discounted by fans of tech death for its -core leanings.
Next up is Orchid, a progressive death metal band out of Bengaluru, India, also with their self-titled debut. The best way I can describe their music is as prog death played with the attitude of Dillinger Escape Plan. Now, they don’t really sound much like DEP (despite flirting with mathcore in some parts), but this might be the most fun prog death album I’ve ever heard. Even with the angry lyrics of “Civic TV” and the creepy latter half of “Disorder,” there’s an underlying sense of joy throughout the album that’s nothing short of infectious.
Musically, it sits comfortably alongside prog acts from the last decade or so, sharing many elements with acts like BTBAM and Haken (sans clean vocals). The riffs are complex and flowery, but kept in check by relatively low tempos by tech death standards. This gives them some more creative flexibility, allowing them to move beyond the typical rigidly scalar playing of many other acts. Jazzy clean sections are in abundance as well, awash in effects and underscored by playful bass lines. There’s a lot going on here, and all of it’s good.
Do you have a band you would like to see featured? A new release we should keep an eye on? Or maybe you want to do some writing yourself? Then email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and make your voice heard!