Tech Death Thursday: Pile o’ EP’s
Look at them all! Today, we’ve got some bite-sized offerings from Slave One, Blame, The Last of Lucy, and Protosequence.
First, some news:
- I can finally shut up about Obscura! Akróasis is streaming now in full over at Guitar World, and you can hear an interview with frontman Steffen Kummerer over at Heavy Blog Is Heavy. I promise not to talk about them again (at least until Rafael Trujillo inevitably gets fired for wanting to try something different with the music).
- Missouri Quiet sounds like something that should be either a bottom-shelf brand of whiskey or the lead single of short-lived country act “Jeb Hartman’s Heartland Harpers” (they never made the Top 40 due to not being real), but it’s actually a pretty gnarly tech/deathcore group. Check out “Falling Sickness” and look for Through the Milleniums sometime in the near future.
- London quintet Unfathomable Ruination have a new album coming this summer, but you can hear a riff sampler right now. It’s just one guitar and drums, but it sounds like it’s going to be awesome when it all comes together.
- Monotheist, featuring current and former members of 7 Horns 7 Eyes and Gigan, have posted a demo of a track from their upcoming debut this spring. Check it out here and tremble at its approach.
- More prog death? More prog death. Fledgling act Lamentations have a super proggy, kinda chill, kinda atmospheric sound on their new song “Fortress” that I’m really digging. Look for Echoes in the Wind on February 13th.
- “That’s all well and good, Spear,” you say, “but I was hoping for something more aggressive.” Fear not! Spheron have you covered. Take a listen to “Gargantua” for something similarly progressive but noticeably angrier. The full album, A Clockwork Universe, comes out on the 26th.
- BRAIN DRILL BRAIN DRILL BRAIN DRILL BRAIN DRILL
With tech death being as dense as it is, it’s oftentimes best digested in EP form. It’s advantageous to both the listener and the artist; they don’t get burned out writing it, and you don’t get burned out listening to it. The flipside of this is that they tend not to be touted as much as their full-length brethren, often passing completely under peoples’ radars. With that in mind, I’ve gathered four EP’s- all of which are debuts, and most of which are over a year old- for your enjoyment. Let’s get started:
First up is Slave One with Cold Obscurantist Light. This album gives me the impression of a prototypical Alustrium (for reference, in case you’ve forgotten); it’s very focused on hard-hitting riffs and coherency of the songs, but it’s a lot rougher. The Nevermore comparison works well for both bands, too; they are melodically similar in some parts and, if Alustrium is Enemies of Reality, Slave One is Nevermore. The production is a little off and it’s not a hundred percent tight, but for the most part, this is a solid album.
In fact, the only real hiccup is the first song, “Ash Covered Creator.” There are some cool bass fills on this track, but that’s really the only thing that makes it stand out. If Cold Obscurantist Light were to start on the second song, “Shiva Whispered the Universe,” it would have been stronger. I feel like they were trying too hard to be progressive on the first track, focusing more on being “non-traditional” than just writing a song. That said, the rest of the album goes off without a hitch, with furious shredding and some mighty riffing. Don’t let that first song deter you; skip it if you have to.
I owe the find for this next one to former techlord Jack Bauer. Blame are, in his words, “some of the most menacing tech death I’ve heard.” He’s not wrong, either; Dark Eyes is relentless in its savagery. It is the predator and you are the prey, and you will be mauled to death if you’re not careful. There are no moments of downtime, no reprieve from the aural assault. Everything has teeth, from the guitar tone to the vocal attack to the almost uninterrupted cascade of blastbeats and double bass.
In terms of production, Dark Eyes is almost the polar opposite of Cold Obscurantist Light. There is a pleasant chunkiness to everything on the album; the vocals occupy a lot of space (though that’s largely due to the strength of the performance), the guitars feel both thick and sharp, and even the bass has a monstrous presence. This would have been a good album regardless of the production, but it makes it that much sweeter. I’d say if you were to listen to just one of these four EP’s, make it Dark Eyes.
The third EP, Exalted Compositions, is probably also the weirdest. The Last of Lucy mix in a little mathcore influence with their sound, but they don’t make it their defining characteristic. That element of calculated chaos is certainly prevalent, but it’s done in a more Ron Jarzombek style than, say, a Psyopus style. There are very few melodic moments on this album outside of the electronic introductions to each track and album closer “The Seed;” diminished and discordant riffs dominate each song, with bizarre slide fills and tremolo dives mixed in to great effect. “Creationist,” the third track, is the best representative of the album as a whole. It has an even mix of both the chaotic and melodic parts and should serve as a primer for the rest of the tunes.
The final album on our journey is also the newest, having just come out this past January. Despite the intense opening blast of arpeggios, Schizophrene is a largely mid-tempo affair that’s more headbobbing than headbanging. That’s by no means a bad thing, either; of the four EP’s here, this one is the most musically diverse. That medium tempo lends itself equally well to finger-breaking flurries of notes, quiet contemplation, and the occasional djent riff.
That last bit is one of the things I find most interesting about Protosequence. Musically speaking, they share as much in common with Periphery as they do with Lost Soul. While there will be some who are turned off by the noise gates and the disparity of the chunky lows and the sharp highs, I think it’s one of the band’s biggest strengths. It represents the merging of two very technical subgenres and presents each of them in the context of the other. It’s kind of a hard thing to explain without listening; check out “Guardian” and follow it up with “Darkness Weeps” for the best illustration of this dichotomy.