Tech Death Thursday: The Zenith Passage – Solipsist
Tech Death Thursday veterans The Zenith Passage are back with their first full-length album!
Before we dive into that, your usual tech news:
- Starting us off with a proper mindfuck is Zygoma with their new track “Red Curtain Falls.” Chaotic song structure mixes with surprisingly catchy hooks and, uh, a little bit of reggae. Look for The Highest Court on May 17th.
- Dethrone the Sovereign have put up a 360 degree playthrough for their latest single, “The Vitruvian Augmentation.” The video quality isn’t great, but it’s cool to see each member doing their thing. Oh, and the song is pretty damn good, too (and you can get it here for free!).
- First Fragment have finally given us a taste of their upcoming album Dasein. Check out “Le Sermont de Tsion,” which sounds like a tasty mixture of Arsis, Gorod, and Vale of Pnath to my ears.
- The third and final preview for Terminal Redux, the newest offering from Vektor, is up now. “Pillars of Sand” might very well be the strongest of the three new tunes and has one of their best chorus riffs by a long shot. Can it be May now?
- Xenomorphic Contamination have a new song out, and it’s rill heavy. Look for Colonized From the Inside sometime this month.
- Imperium have released a teaser for their upcoming album, Titanomachy, due out on May 7th. No full songs are available at time of writing, but there will be one online around the time this is published.
It had been a long time since we heard anything from The Zenith Passage after the release of their 2013 EP The Cosmic Dissonance. They put out a single pre-production track in 2014 and went quiet. With guitarist Justin McKinney joining The Faceless not long after, one could be forgiven for having doubts about the future of the band. Fortunately, those doubts proved to be unfounded; the above “Holographic Principle II: Convergence” heralded the arrival of Solipsist, the band’s first full-length album.
I noticed instantly (well, after creepy Nintendo-noises intro “Holographic Principle I”) that the band has significantly beefed up their sound since Cosmic Dissonance. My biggest gripe with that EP was the inconsistency of the writing, as most of it focused on slow builds with quick bursts of notes at the end. Two-guitar tech death tends to sound thin, especially with the genre’s pervasive use of compression and noise gates. Thankfully, the band seems to have realized this, as Solipsist sounds much fuller than their previous offering. The riffs still have that hybrid Faceless/Soreption quality to them with plenty of start-stop grooves and alien flourishes, but there’s not as much empty space between them. I would go so far as to say their use of space (and not the purple swirly shit kind) is one of the strongest parts of the album, drawing a clear line between themselves and the thousand-notes-per-minute tendencies of their contemporaries.
Going back to the aforementioned compression and noise gates, I know some of you will be disappointed (and completely unsurprised) that Solipsist features very sterile production. However- and hear me out on this- this is an instance where I believe the music is actually enhanced by stripping away some of the human element. These are songs that are meant to feel robotic, and I don’t just mean being machine-accurate. The melodies themselves are extremely evocative of “digital age” feelings and imagery, particularly the main riff of “Deus Deceptor” (which, incidentally, is my favorite song on the album). This is the soundtrack to being hunted by a Terminator; it’s precise, it’s unrelenting, and terrifying in its cold roboticism.
If there’s one complaint I have with this album, it’s that the latter half to me a few listens to really click. Maybe it was just due to coming off the high of “Deus Deceptor,” but the later songs didn’t grab my attention quite like the first few did, or at least not as immediately. After being able to sit with the album for awhile and really dig into it, I was able to pick apart some of the complexities and appreciate it much more. It rewards the patient listener (or the very focused listener), so I would recommend dedicating some time to it.
Solipsist ultimately represents the band cementing their identity in place. They’ve honed the sound they began developing years ago to a razor’s edge, nailing both the atmosphere and the songwriting. It’s an all around satisfying listen, and that’s why I’m giving it:
4.5/5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell
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