Tech Death Thursday: Orphalis and Unfathomable Ruination


I’ve got a double dose of brutal death metal for you this week. Say goodbye to your dicks and hello to Orphalis and Unfathomable Ruination!

Get yourself some news:

  • Infecting the Swarm has a new song up here. I dig their more cerebral approach to brutal death metal, and “Spiral Fragmentation” does not disappoint on that front. Abyss is out next Friday, September 9th.
  • Allegaeon has posted another new song from the upcoming Proponent For Sentience, “All Hail Science.” The irony of having this particular song on an album about the destruction of humanity at the hands of AI isn’t lost on me, but it’s still an awesome tune. You can also listen to their “Subdivisions” cover again: now with properly mixed audio!
  • Here’s a new song from Wastewalker, the new project from former Conducting From The Grave axeman John Abernathy. Look for Funeral Winds on November 8th.
  • After revealing the less than stellar title track from Calling From a DreamInanimate Existence have won me back with their new one, “Pulse of the Mountain’s Heart.” It’s a natural progression from their earlier sound, and the clean vocals actually fit. Calling From a Dream is out September 16th, and you can catch the band on a short west coast tour from the 9th to the 18th (specific dates in the link above).
  • Virvum have released another new song from their upcoming Illuminance, entitled “Tentacles of the Sun,” and it’s incredible. Don’t skip this one. Illuminance comes out on September 16th.
  • Artificial Brain are entering the studio in a week. Get hyped.
  • If you’re chomping at the bit for new Anata material, too bad! It’s not ready yet. On the other hand, you can check out the remaster of The Infernal Depths of Hatred over at Decibel. Preorders are available through Kaotoxin, and it releases sometime in October.

Monolithic, hulking slabs of crushing, cathartic brutality. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s get onto some words that actually mean something:

I said way back in my Fleshgore mini review that brutal death metal doesn’t have much staying power for me due to lack of distinction between bands. Naturally, this means I’ve been finding awesome new brutal death bands left and right that have forced me to eat my words many times over. Dortmund’s Orphalis is one such band, and their newest, The Birth of Infinity, has kept me coming back for more since its release three weeks ago. I’d been following them closely largely due to their label’s description of their sound, ascribing them a blackened, dissonant sound in the vein of Deathspell Omega mixed with the technical prowess of Spawn of Possession. Needless to say, this had me pretty excited.

It turns out the band doesn’t really fit that descriptor, but they do deliver some damned fine brutal death metal regardless of influences. They remind me quite a bit of Antithesis-era Origin, but with a greater affinity for the low end and busier guitar work. They come out swinging on “Encased in a Higher Intellect” and continue their relentless series of blows until the final closing notes of “Inferiority Absolved,” only slowing their stream of tremolo jabs for heavy body-blows. Leads are fast, sloppy, and loose, ditching the surgical precision of their riffs and striking with reckless abandon. You’ll come out feeling battered and bloodied, but satisfied and ready for another round.

Production and mixing tends to be hit-or-miss with brutal death; I think that Orphalis nails it, but it might lose some people. It’s clean, but not to the point where all its grit has been polished away. It’s easy to follow both the guitar and bass, and the vocals and drums are never overpowering. Some might say it’s too polished, but I like being able to hear everything clearly.

Now, go get yourself cleaned up. You’re not done yet.

If you’re looking for something a little less straightforward, Unfathomable Ruination has just what you need. They occupy the same realm as Defeated Sanity and Dying Fetus, driving their music forward with unbridled rage. You know the sound; guttural vocals more vomited than growled, disgustingly chunky guitar tone, thick bass, trash can snare. It’s all here in its grimy glory.

In spite of the out-of-control feel of Finitude, the songs flow surprisingly well. Even with time signatures and tempos changing seemingly at random, the progressions make sense when viewing them as a whole. Themes are established and then built upon, though not always immediately or obviously. While this may not sound like something that’s particularly noteworthy, it’s impressive that they are able to do it within their style of music. It’s cool hearing patterns emerge, and it’s all brought together in a satisfying finale.

One of the most captivating aspects of this album was the leads and solos. Don’t get me wrong; all of it is excellent. What grabbed me was how well they fit everything. They’re not interchangeable shredfests or aimless noise; they’re chaotic, but they feel directed. There’s a lot of dissonance and chromatic runs, but they work with everything happening beneath them. They’re also surprisingly clean; it’s clear that the lead guitarist knows exactly what he’s doing. It’s a wonder to behold, and an integral part of the experience.

Brutal death metal isn’t really in my wheelhouse, but these guys got my attention and I’ll be damned if they lose it anytime soon. If you like what you heard, follow Orphalis on Facebook here and Unfathomable Ruination here. You can find their albums digitally at the Bandcamp links above; for physicals, head here for The Birth of Infinity and to Sevared for Finitude. That’s all for this week, flushers, and until next time,

Stay Tech

(Images VIA, VIA)

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