Tech Death Thursday: The Scalar Process – Coagulative Matter
Tech death for one and all from a promising new act.
Not familiar with The Scalar Process? That’s fine; neither was I, until they graced my inbox a couple weeks back. Being on Transcending Obscurity, I expected a quality act, and was not mistaken. There’s a lot going on in the music here: the proclivity for bouncing, ascending melodies is reminiscent of The Flesh Prevails-era Fallujah filtered through the darker and fiercer lens of Decrepit Birth. It has the speed and tightness of Continuum and Psycroptic, with a touch of the musical ideas resembling those of the latter’s last couple albums. This is all paired with lighter, dare I say ethereal, sections that break up the action, also reminiscent of Fallujah (and make for a perfect guest spot from Scott Corsairs on “Ink Shadow”).
The performances on Coagulative Matter are surprisingly restrained; the degree of accuracy to which these songs are performed and the occasional burst of spidery guitar work gives the impression the musicians could go into much more noodly territory, but keep it reined in most of the time. Clement Denys of Fractal Universe puts forth a characteristically tasteful performance, an immaculate mixture of intense death metal drumming and jazzy pocket grooves, where project mastermind Eloi Nicod weaves a tapestry of dark melody through precise fretwork. The riffs, while fairly complex at first blush, are made easy to follow through repetition and a stripped-down live band feel, largely consisting of just one guitar, bass, and drums. Second guitar parts are mostly relegated to playing melodies an octave up rather than supplying harmony or counterpoint, which are used sparingly for maximum impact. This approach has the potential to leave the music feeling barebones, but the extra space is filled with a combination of understated clean guitar and soaring leads. As a result, each track has a lot of room to breathe without it ever feeling empty, and even at its most technical, frantic points, it’s paced such that you’re eased into it. Check out “Poisoned Fruit” for a good overview of what this is all about.
While the breadth of influences and musical touchstones might give the impression that the album as a whole is an incoherent mess, the majority of it is quite focused, almost to a fault. The bread and butter of the riffing on this album leans hard- too hard, I would say- on a string-skipping pattern that hops up to the higher octave for accents and falls down to the lower for the pedal tones. It’s a pretty common thing in melodeath and tech death as a whole (you’ll recognize it as soon as you hear it), and it’s not inherently a bad thing, but it’s easy to fall into using one or two patterns too heavily. So it goes on Coagulative Matter: there are a few riffs that could be plucked from one song and dropped into another without knowing the difference.
Fortunately, that’s really the only complaint I’d levy against this album, and those moments are exceptions to the norm. By and large, it’s an eclectic but focused album, mixing a variety of ideas around a clearly realized writing style. For all its aggression and speed, Coagulative Matter is a smooth listen with great melody and just enough flamboyance to make it exciting without ever overdoing it. The music jams, the production sounds great, and it’s an easy recommendation for both established fans of the genre and tech death newcomers. Pick it up through Transcending Obscurity when it lands on February 19th, and check out The Scalar Process on Facebook as well. That’s all I’ve got for now, so until next time,