Tech Death Thursday: Prog in Teal

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Today’s bands prove that the secret to being a successful prog metal band is finding the right balance of green and blue in your cover art. We’re catching up with the latest from Exist and Anisoptera!

Just one lonely news item for you today:

  • Jacksonville’s Crypteria have a new single out, and it’s chunky as fuck. The leads rule, and I can already feel my knuckles reaching the floor due to their flagrant abuse of pinch harmonics. My only complaint is that weak logo besmirching Pierre Amédée Marcel-Beronneau’s “Orpheus in Hades.” It looks weirdly cartoony over such a detailed piece of art.

We’re kicking off today’s parade of prog prodigies with one of last year’s gems, Exist’s So True, So Bound. Despite being a fairly high profile release- the band consists of current and former members of CynicDefeated Sanity, and (for this album) Alkaloid– our crew of resident prog nerds seem to have missed it entirely. I’m not going to spend a whole lot of time on this one, given how long it’s been out and the fact that it’s made its rounds on other sites, but with a pedigree like that you’re all but guaranteed a good time.

And indeed, So True, So Bound is pure progressive metal bliss. It unabashedly adopts the veneer of classic prog death acts in the vein of Cynic and Atheist, filters it through some Death riffage, and fuses it to the gentler side of modern acts like Haken and Leprous. That looks like a complete clusterfuck on paper, but it works in execution. It’s similar to the songwriting approach a lot of modern sludge bands take, easing you into a comfortable state of sedation before dropping two tons of rusty iron on you, but it’s done with a cleaner, more refined prog approach. Humble clean vocals meet with throat-rending howls, post-metal leads clash with jarring and violent rhythms, all in a constant flow of harmony and discord.

What should by all rights be a shambling golem of disparate influences and ideas instead forms something beautiful and oddly cohesive. It offers something new, but its constituent components are familiar enough to the metal world at large that even fringe prog fans should derive some enjoyment from this. If you missed this the first time around, give it a shot. So True, So Bound is out now through Prosthetic Records.

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If that wasn’t heavy enough for you, then our next band should have you more than covered. Anisoptera dropped their debut just a couple weeks ago, but I’ve been trying to penetrate its depths since about the middle of August. Spawn of Odonata is heavy, dense, and above all else, pretty fucking weird.

This is the fun kind of weird though, the sort that makes you want to keep listening to hear what bizarre concoction the band brings out next. Anisoptera draw their name and aesthetic from dragonflies, and it ties into the music itself in some fascinating ways. Much of what I said about the music’s jaunty flow back in our premiere of “Sterilization” in June can be applied to the album as a whole, and yet no two songs feel quite alike. It feels very much like a debut album in that sense; the band have a clearly defined sound already (I get the impression these guys are all experienced musicians), but the way the explore it suggests that they haven’t quite found their comfort zone yet. Don’t mistake that for a flaw, though- we, the listeners, get to reap the benefits of that experimentation, and it makes for a wild experience.

Their music is built around a core of downtuned melodeath jazz fusion, and each of their songs explore some facet of that core in unique ways. Opener “Rebirth” goes all-in on the jazz aspect, with big chords and some tricky subdivisions that combine with meter changes for a time-keeping nightmare. Its followup, “Cursed,” goes in a more straightforward melodic death metal direction, while “Sporadic Cycle” throws the two in a blender and runs. Closing it all out is “Heterochromia Iridis,” a fully acoustic tune that will have guitar nerds salivating (and will sound pretty to everyone else). There’s basically nothing this album doesn’t do, and while it can be a bit jarring, the tunes are good enough to make the experience an enjoyable one.

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Is your band tech as heck? Got a juicy piece of news or an upcoming release to watch? Send it my way at techdeathtovh@gmail.com and I’ll check it out. I might even talk about it.

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