Tech Death Thursday: Top Tech of 2018
It’s list season, baby, and I’m going to milk it for all it’s worth.
My biggest gripe with creating year-end “best of” lists entirely has to do with how limiting it is; I listen to a lot of metal of every variety, so trying to choose just 10 as the “best” or whatever is excruciating. This year was particularly difficult, so I’m going to take this opportunity to do something I’ve never done before and fire off my top ten favorite tech death albums of 2018. I’m not going to include anything featured on my list from yesterday; the idea is to cover as much ground as possible, and double-listing kind of defeats the purpose. So without any further ado, here are my favorite tech death albums of 2018*:
The Beast of Nod – Vampira: Disciple of Chaos
Independent | Review
There isn’t a whole lot of technical music out there you can throw on as feel-good background jams, but that happens to be one of Vampira’s biggest strengths. From the album’s absurd concept to its bouncy riffs and even the bright and colorful cover art, it just oozes fun. The music itself sounds like the product of a Protest the Hero/The Mantle collaboration; it’s full of instrumental theatrics, but it defines itself through its upbeat atmosphere. Just a thoroughly satisfying listen through and through.
THAT’S A LOTTA NOTES
Sometimes you just need a band that comes in and techs all over the place. Serocs do just that, and they set about it in an extraordinarily violent fashion. While the raw speed and note density can be daunting, the songs are structured in a way that keeps you from being overwhelmed; it’s not as chaotic as it might sound at first blush. It’s fast and intense, and I need more of that fatty bass tone in my life.
Anachronism – Orogeny
Independent | Review
I didn’t get to as much dissonance-heavy music as I would have liked this year, but I was able to spend a bunch of time with Orogeny. And it was time well spent; Anachronism incorporate sounds from all over the metal spectrum into their unique brand of hazy death metal. There’s a warmth to their music that you don’t really hear in much of this style of music, especially one with so many brutal death riffs. Fans of any sort of prog should be all over this one.
Inferi – Revenant
The Artisan Era | Review
This was a banner year for The Artisan Era, who hosted a number of excellent albums from upstart tech death bands and veterans alike (plusone super sweet black metal group). I could think of no better band to represent their increasingly formidable roster than the big daddies themselves, Inferi. Revenant is not just a powerhouse melodic tech death record but also an excellent showcase of musical storytelling. Its melancholy atmosphere and dramatic strings set a compelling stage for a brilliant set of performances, creating one of the finest pure tech death records we saw in 2018.
Gorod – Aethra
Overpowered Records | Review
I’ve always admired Gorod for their ability to write crazy prog tunes that are wholly palatable in spite of their density, and it came as a bit of a surprise that they went for a more stripped-down approach to songwriting with Aethra. Equally surprising was how well their personality translated to the simpler formula; they lost none of their characteristic swagger or fiery fretwork, and they’ve written some of the catchiest tunes in their impressive catalog. It’s still Gorod doing Gorod things, and I could ask for nothing more.
Soreption – Monument of the End
Sumerian Records | Review
To think that there were people who doubted that Soreption could bounce back from lineup changes! The wait between albums felt a little longer than it was in reality, and it was well worth it. Monument of the End shows that the band hasn’t lost a step in spite of some setbacks, retaining their pummeling syncopated riffs and mechanical precision. This album is one of the finest collections of meaty metal released in 2018, so skip it at your loss.
Rivers of Nihil – Where Owls Know My Name
Metal Blade | Review
No need to mince words: I fucking love this album. The crescendo from “Cancer/Moonspeak” into “The Silent Life” still sucks the breath right out of me, and I’m along for the whole thing all over again. The sense of loneliness and loss that pervades this record is so thick, so abnormal for tech death, that it lingers long after finishing a listen. Progressive, heavy, emotional, Owls hits everything I want out of a metal album and then some.
Revocation – The Outer Ones
Metal Blade | Review
Full disclosure: Dave Davidson and Dan Gargiulo are my personal gods, so this was basically guaranteed a spot before I even heard it. Now that I have indeed heard it many times over, I feel justified in its inclusion; this album rips. The Outer Ones sees Revocation dive into ever-heavier and more experimental territory with ugly-ass riffs built on a fused core of death metal, thrash, and jazz. It’s equal parts headbanging and head-scratching, and it’s a great time all around (even if it makes you have to think every few bars).
Arsis – Visitant
Nuclear Blast/Agonia | Review
I’ve listened to Visitant probably a little more than is reasonable for an album that has been out for just over a month, but I’m not sure I really care. The band has always been just ridiculously good at music, and this album feels like peak Arsis. They sound more vicious than ever before, the mix is the best it’s ever been, and even songwriting feels like it’s been stepped up. It feels fresh and vigorous, almost like they have something to prove, but they don’t let it get in the way of the fun factor. Don’t let this pass you by.
Slugdge – Esoteric Malacology
Willowtip Records | Statistics Lesson
Yeah, you all knew this was going to be here. Not without good reason; Slugdge do a lot of things you don’t hear other bands even attempt, and they do it extremely well. Esoteric Malacology is no exception, seeing the band ditch the HM-2’s for sharper production and more intricate compositions. The lyrics actually fucking matter here, too. Whether they’re about merging into the being of some vile goo-beast or a dead serious indictment of fascist ideology, they are a driving force entwined with the motion of each song. I don’t know that there’s much more I can say about this album that hasn’t already been said by other, better writers, but if there’s one album you listen to on this list, make it this one.
That about does it for me, but I’d like to say that this list isn’t even close to representative of what we got for tech this year. Hell, this entire column couldn’t cover everything, and not for lack of trying. I strongly encourage you to go back through and check out previous articles; there’s a ton of stuff out there that is absolutely deserving of your attention, and more yet I never got around to talking about. So on that note, I would also encourage you to drop some stuff in the comments that we missed this year, or your own tech lists, or whatever. Until next time,
*Note that this list is 100% objectively the correct list, and if you disagree, I will personally come to your house and fight you**.
**Also note that I am a scrawny little bastard and you will probably beat me
(Header image VIA)