Tech Death Thursday: Orchid and Mass Infection
Aw yeah, we’re back! We’ve got two sweet new albums of wildly different flavors for you to check out this week from Orchid and Mass Infection.
A couple news bits first:
- In case you missed it, we premiered a brand spankin’ new Equipoise track yesterday. If you’re into Obscura-style tech death, you’ll want to check this one out for sure.
- A Novelist also has a new track up, and it’s a weird one. The good kind of weird, with sweet guitar work and plenty of atmosphere. Look for Folie on February 8th.
Yeah, this column is called “Tech Death Thursday,” but I know you’re all really here for some jazzy mathcore. This isn’t the first time we’ve talked about Orchid; I was a big fan of their first EP, which you might remember for its striking cover art as much as the music itself. It was a super fun mixture of prog death and hardcore, and I’ve been looking forward to seeing where they would take their sound next. We’ve got a new record now, and while I admittedly haven’t been able to spend a ton of time with it yet, my first couple runs through it have been quite enjoyable.
With Miasma, Orchid have dialed back the death metal bits in favor of the mathcore side of their music. It’s jauntier than their previous outing for sure, but not to the point of being unpalatable; imagine something between Cleric and old BTBAM and you’ll be in the right ballpark. It’s violent and more aggressive, but that sense of fun is still there, and it’s all smoothed out by way more jazz parts. They’re a welcome break from the chaos, evening the pacing and giving the music an eclectic mix of textures. The extended break in the middle of “Dead End” is my personal favorite; the clean guitar, keys, and walking bass are exactly the sort of thing you’d hear from a typical jazz combo, and it’s very well executed. The total package might be a bit tough to break into for some people, but there’s a lot to love with this album.
There aren’t really a ton of brutal death metal bands I cop to liking these days- the majority is a bit too knuckle-draggy for my ears- but every now and then I’ll run into one that absolutely annihilates my expectations in the best way. Mass Infection is just such a band, and their newest album, Shadows Became Flesh, is a monster. These guys have been around since 2003, but I hadn’t heard them until recently; as such, I can’t really offer any comparison between Shadows and their previous material, but this one is good enough to stand on its own.
When I say “brutal death metal” with regards to Mass Infection, it’s in the loosest terms possible- it sounds like it’s a label other people have stuck to the band based on one small facet of their sound (though looking at the their old cover art, it might have been more prevalent at one time). There aren’t a whole lot of the typical facets of BDM present on Shadows Made Flesh; no slams, no gutturals, and only a couple sections with that heavily palm-muted chunky riffing endemic in the genre. It’s loaded with the speed and intensity you’d expect, but the overall feel is more along the lines of the Hate Eternal and later Morbid Angel school of death metal. The vocals are similar to that half-growl half-bellow thing going that Steve Tucker does, and the guitar and drum work gives off that same menacing aura that makes Gateways so good.
On top of that, as the first song will demonstrate immediately, there’s a splash of vertical dissonance in the same vein as Ulcerate in there as well, and a couple of riffs gave me an Hour of Penance vibe with their grim majesty. The variety on this record is a big part of what makes it so good; I’m all for bands that zero in on a specific sound and do it really well, but it’s nice to hear a band branch out and take some risks. Even if you’re not big on tech, I imagine you’ll get some mileage out of this record.
While this particular TDT might not have featured the most traditionally “tech death” bands, I hope you all can find something to like. If you do, you can find Orchid and Mass Infection at their respective Facebook pages, and both albums are available for purchase and streaming at the Bandcamp links above. That’s all for now, and I look forward to bringing you more tech than you know what to do with this year.
Is your band tech as heck? Got a juicy piece of news or an upcoming release to watch? Send it my way at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll check it out. I might even talk about it.