Tech Death Thursday: Prog Death Catch-Up
It’s time for some tech. Get ready for that weird shit, because we’re going deep down the prog-hole this week.
Mother of All is an interesting one. Not totally tech death, not totally prog, it’s an atypical melodic death metal project tinged with just enough of the former descriptors to warrant its inclusion here. I had never heard of the project until recently, but the inclusion of Steve DiGorgio among the guest roster caught my eye. Still, I kept my expectations in check going into this, and I think that was ultimately a good thing. To be clear, that doesn’t mean this is a bad album; on the contrary, I actually like it a fair bit. It’s easy to have a certain expectation of what something is going to sound like when you see a musician known for a past project appearing in another one, and this bears little resemblance to past DiGorgio ventures. Indeed, this is entirely the brainchild of drummer/vocalist Martin Haumann, and he has surrounded himself with musicians capable of bringing the project to life.
And indeed, this is a strong, compact work of melodeath that doesn’t sound like melodeath, eschewing the well-worn Gothenburg sound for something more fresh and interesting. “Autumn” opens the proceedings on a blackened note (appropriate, having first appeared on a split with Kvaen earlier this year), following up with a more technical approach on “We Don’t Agree.” “Curators of the World Scope” and “Feel the Pain” mix a healthy amount of groove in with the proggy riffing, the latter also adding in some clean singing that I wish we had heard a little more of on the album. There’s a lot of variety across its seven tracks, and given their relatively short lengths, they stay moving and focused. The album isn’t without its quiet moments, but it never lingers in one place too long, avoiding a common pitfall with progressive music.
So while I wouldn’t call this a mind-blowing release, it is still quite good. The music is solid, with a nice mixture of flashy instrumental work and catchy melody, and the Hannes Grossmann production is excellent. There’s a lot of room for this project to grow, and I eagerly await its followup. Age of the Solipsist is out now on Black Lion Records.
Christchurch’s premiere horrifying death metal act are back and more hideous than ever. Blindfolded and Led to the Woods put out one of my favorite records of 2017 with Modern Adoxography, and I’m just going to say right now that Nightmare Withdrawals is a shoo-in for my list this year. I know it’s way too early to be talking about that shit, but I’m not exaggerating when I say this album does everything that I like in this rotten branch of progressive death metal, and they do it nigh-flawlessly.
While this is certainly a harsh experience, it’s not as aggressively dissonant as something like Ad Nauseam or Pyrrhon. The music is hard to penetrate, sure, but there are easily discernable riffs and motifs present even for people not accustomed to digging through walls of notes to find them. The craftsmanship behind the faster, more aggressive parts is akin to Unfathomable Ruination at times with its fluid structure and unstable chording; paired with the hoarse barked vocals, it’s an incredibly violent experience. The slower parts take the form of either sludgy, trudging riffing or watery, seasick chords that would do Suffering Hour proud.
All of this is woven together with stellar production and mixing; the instruments are still gritty and earthen in tone, but the mix keeps them all clear and easy to follow. Nightmare Withdrawals is a visceral tapestry of sound, solid proof that something can be as memorable as it is harsh. I’ve revisited this a number of times in the past few months, and I keep coming back for more. Pick up the album now over on Bandcamp, or if you’re into vinyl, you can look forward to its upcoming pressing via Prosthetic Records.
So there you have it: two very different flavors of progressive death metal that have tickled my fancy as of late. Hopefully at least one of them does something for you as well; if not, I have failed, and will have to redeem my honor next time. Until we meet again,