Tech Death Thursday: Sentient Ignition and Enigma
Grab your space suits and your plasma rifles; we’re blasting off this week with Sentient Ignition and Enigma. It’s Tech Death Thursday!
Gear up with some news:
- Revocation’s new album is streaming over at Invisible Oranges. I have yet to really sink my teeth into it, but I’m really liking what I’ve heard so far. Great Is Our Sin comes out tomorrow.
- Punished, a new band featuring members of Serocs and Ulcerate, has a new song up at NCS. It’s weird, it’s gross, and has a variety of guest performances. Look for The Absent on July 29th.
- Willowtip Records has reissued a remastered version of Necrophagist’s debut album, Onset of Putrefaction. The guitars and vocals stand out a little more, but the drums… well, just listen. It’s still a good album of course, and it’s great that there are physical copies of it out there again, but was reprogramming the drums really necessary?
- If prog death is more your speed, Blood Incantation has a new song streaming here. This is a band I’d forgotten about almost entirely, but I certainly won’t forget them anytime soon after hearing the title track of Starspawn. Look for the full release on August 19th via Dark Descent.
- Virvum just announced a new album for this September. Unfortunately, there’s nothing to listen to yet, but you can head here to preorder Illuminance.
I tend to shy away from talking about demos. They are generally pretty rough in one way or another, and oftentimes aren’t representative of the final product. Moreover, they don’t always have enough music present to give an accurate picture of a band’s overall sound. Sometimes, though, somebody sends you one that’s too good to ignore. In this case, that would be Sentient Ignition, a prog death quintet from Sacramento.
I like it when bands like this are able to slow down the music while keeping it interesting. Sentient Ignition does just that, opting to focus more on melody and complex structure than on speed and showmanship. The riffs may initially strike you as being typical melodeath (as they did me), but it quickly becomes apparent that there’s a bit more going on under the bright high harmony. The guitars rarely ever fall back on harmonizing in thirds, oftentimes playing two completely separate melodies stitched together by the motion of the bass. Meanwhile, the drums alternate between punishing blasts and creative grooves and patterns, and it’s all brought together by an eclectic vocal performance.
Less than a minute into “A Thousand Ages,” the song abruptly shifts gears to a slower triplet feel. This sets the stage for the rest of the experience, ideas swirling around and voicing themselves before finally melding into one another. For there only being 16 minutes of music (which I suppose is plenty for only two songs) there are a lot of different themes present, but the band does a wonderful job of tying them all together. Through all the twists and turns, they are able to bring all these ideas together cohesively into a satisfying ending. All in all, there’s a surprising amount to glean from this little demo, and it shouldn’t be overlooked by fans of melodeath or progressive death metal. I eagerly look forward to where the band goes from here.
Up next is Enigma with Stars Misaligned. I first caught wind of these guys a couple weeks ago when “Of Vile and Bliss” went up and was instantly hooked by their deft performance and hook-laden composition. Having now heard the full thing, I can say my addiction has only worsened. It’s currently up and available for your ravenous ear-mouths right here ahead of its release tomorrow, so crucify that play button and jump in.
Now, there was one source of consternation for me on “Of Vile and Bliss:” the syncopated, pseudo-djent riff that appears partway through. I’m okay with djent when it’s on its own (as my well-worn Periphery and Tesseract discs can attest), but there’s a nasty precedent of it overtaking a band’s sound when it’s mixed in with another style. Tech death in particular tends to degenerate rapidly when exposed to djent; it might start off strong, but it oftentimes deteriorates completely into uninspired deathcore by the end of the record when djent is thrown into the mix.
That is mercifully not the case on Stars Misaligned. The aforementioned segment is the only one of its kind on the EP, and it works well in the context of the song as a break from the frenetic pace set in its opening moments. The rest of it is pure tech death bliss, moving in a wild but graceful dance from start to finish. I admire Enigma’s sense of pacing; they know exactly when to give the listener a break from the madness, punctuating their storm of sweeps and string-skipping with heavier, more traditional death metal riffing and the occasional clean break (the jaunty waltz section partway through “The Circus of the Collective” is particularly good). Most importantly, the songs are just plain good. They’re catchy as hell while being incredibly headbangable, the solos are creative, the vocals are nasty, the bass crushes, and it’s all held aloft by an unrelenting drummer. I could gush about this EP all day, but it’s better if you give it a listen for yourself.
Sentient Ignition and Enigma can be found on Facebook, so go give them some good old-fashioned Toilet lovin’. You can get each of their albums on Bandcamp for a measly $2 between them (Sentient Ignition here and Enigma here), so you don’t have to feel bad about dropping a little cash on these. That’s all this time. Until we meet again,
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