Tech Death Thursday: The Hallowed Catharsis
You probably aren’t familiar with The Hallowed Catharsis. Let’s fix that.
- Proliferation have released a new single alongside a re-recorded “Earth Rhombus” from their 2014 EP. It’s gloomy and spooky and kicks ass.
- More prog death? More prog death. Check out the blistering new track from Dark Matter Secret and look for Perfect World Creation in June.
- Vomit Remnants dropped the most self-descriptive album of all time last Friday with Hyper Groove Brutality. Check it out here if you want some hyper-groovy brutal death metal.
- Vale of Pnath will be hitting the road in September with First Fragment and Virvum, a veritable orgy of tech-death mastery. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to it. Dates here.
- If you’re looking for deathcore that isn’t hot garbage, then check out the new tune from Shadow of Intent. There aren’t a whole lot of bands that seem to be trying to push the genre forward, but these guys are one of the select few putting forth the effort, and it definitely shows. Reclaimer comes out tomorrow.
I briefly mentioned The Hallowed Catharsis in last week’s article, intrigued by the idea of a companion comic for a concept album. While I haven’t had the opportunity to read the comic yet, the album itself is out now for our listening pleasure. And make no mistake; this is quite the pleasure to listen to. I’ll admit to occasionally being gratuitous in hyping an album, but believe me when I say that Solar Cremation checks off everything I look for in a progressive death metal record and then some.
“Bad Seed” opens the album with an arid Phrygian dominant riff backed by thrumming toms, an appropriately sweltering desert-like melody given the album’s themes. The band wastes no time in throwing on the distortion and getting heavy as the drums pick up and the solo guitar is joined in harmony by another. The song continues to ramp up in intensity, morphing the opening theme into a sliding dissonant riff with odd timing. As it continues to build to a fever pitch, we are introduced to both styles of vocals on the album: a throaty, frantic death growl and a full-on skramz-style despairing wail. It’s made immediately apparent that these vocal approaches aren’t flung about arbitrarily; the former is used for the majority of the album, the latter being saved for the characters’ moments of extreme duress. Through all of that, the song never veers too far from that initial opening theme, which eventually bleeds directly into “Phototaxic” and continues to build from there. This whole opening is brilliant; in less than three minutes, the band introduces a variety of ideas while demonstrating their ability to keep both distinction and cohesion between them.
If you don’t care about following the progression and just want some riffs, the band delivers on that front, too. “Phototaxic” is built around a spacey churning riff and dissonant jazz chords, featuring a clean section that combines Beyond Creation’s quieter moments with the creepy atmosphere of Anata’s “Children’s Laughter,” topping things off with one of the best guitar solos I’ve heard all year. “Jabberwocky” (of which the video has some art from the comic) mixes its angular riffs with sludgy chords and some middle-years Mastodon-style progginess. The title track takes a more melodic turn and introduces some warmer post-metal-influenced elements that work wonders for the song’s thoroughly depressing ending. Closer “Jetsam” opens with a haunting clean riff underscored by a menacing bass line and busy yet subtle percussion, morphing into uncomfortable dissonance and eventually a bizarrely jaunty riff, tying together the imagery of the protagonist’s body slowly liquefying in the heat of the sun and the breaking of his mind, respectively. While each of these songs is good enough to stand on their own, the album is best experienced as a whole. That said, there are plenty of great hooks and cool individual moments, and it’s easy to go back to a favorite song without that jarring feeling that can come from starting in the middle of a story-based album.
The production on Solar Cremation is solid as well. The typical tech-death robotic sound wouldn’t have worked with this style of music, especially not in the more emotional moments. The guitar tone is suitably warm and full-bodied, ringing out clear for leads with a pleasant level of crunch. The bass and drums are dynamic, always carrying just the right amount of punch and backing off when necessary. Everything sits well in the mix, making it just as easy to follow a specific instrument as it is to bask in the band’s full sound. It’s a pleasant listening experience in every respect.
Again, I know I can be overly enthusiastic with what I talk about here, but trust me when I say this album is phenomenal. It’s technical and progressive without being masturbatory, it expertly covers a broad spectrum of emotions, it sounds great, it flows great, and it comes with a goddamn comic. Trying to find new bands to cover every week can be a draining and frustrating process, but it’s albums like this that remind me why I do it.
I sincerely hope some of you enjoy Solar Cremation as much as I have; even if you’re not a fan of tech/prog death, I still recommend at least giving the title track and “Jetsam” a listen. There’s a lot going on here, and I imagine most everyone will find something they’ll like. Check out The Hallowed Catharsis on Facebook, and catch them on tour in June through Alberta and British Columbia with Of Modern Architecture (who are also excellent- dates here). That’s all for this week, and until next time,
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