Tech Death Thursday: Underwater Weedlies
Deep space and the deep sea have a few things in common; they’re both dark, horrifying, mysterious, and perfect mediums for swirly purple shit. This week we’re diving deep with Sleepless Empire and Atlantis Chronicles.
First for some news:
- Indonesian quintet Auticed has a new album out, but all I can find to share with you is this teaser. I’m not even sure how to buy it (and trust me, I would if I could), as their label’s website is a bit… bare. Maybe someday we’ll get to hear the full thing, but for now we’ll have to make do with two and a half minutes of sweet First Fragment-style neoclassical tech.
- Red Dawn also has a new album out, though it doesn’t appear to be about the communist takeover of the United States in the 1980’s. It does, however, sound pretty sweet; you can check out a song at HBIH and pick it up here if it tickles your pickle.
- Not enough gutturals for you? No worries; Internal Suffering have your back. You can check out the title track from their upcoming Cyclonic Void of Power right here, out June 24th.
- Unmerciful, featuring a couple former members of Origin, have announced their new album for July 22nd on Unique Leader. Check out the full press release for the track listing and artwork, and give their debut a listen to catch yourself up.
Sleepless Empire are one of those bands whose “tech death” label is a bit dubious, but in this case, I doubt all but the staunchest of genre purists are really going to care. Their music is certainly much slower and more methodical than most other bands in the scene, but it’s just so damn cool. It’s very rare to hear a synth do anything but provide some string or choral accompaniment to tech death tunes, but on Aquatic Descent, it’s an active force. It rips through leads and complex riffs alongside the guitar as readily as it gives the album its icy atmosphere.
Of course, it’s not all about the keys (or MIDI programming…or whatever they used). The riff is truly front and center here, with most everybody driving it forth (the bass, sadly, is pretty low in the overall mix). The vocals have a rough bark to them that should please fans of Rivers of Nihil, and the guitar work is excellent. Whether they’re playing menacing open arpeggios, burning through blistering scale runs, or hanging back and pounding out a simple chugging riff, it’s always totally on point.
There’s a lot going on in Aquatic Descent, and that’s a good thing. Though the album is nearly an hour long, I never once felt bored during its running time, which is an accomplishment in and of itself. Moreover, it’s fairly unique in the tech death landscape. The closest parallels I can really draw are to Alustrium and Archaic Decapitator, and even those aren’t really close matches. Sleepless Empire have a good thing going here, and I look forward to seeing where they take it. Don’t sleep on this one.
I had been looking forward to Barton’s Odyssey for some time when it finally dropped back in March. However, the lack of songs they had posted online made me hesitant to feature them here. On top of that, Angry Metal Guy, one of a small handful of outlets whose opinions I value almost as highly as the Toilet’s (almost), scored the album at a painful 1.5/5. Needless to say, I was a bit discouraged from seeking it out on my own. But lo and behold, it showed up on Bandcamp a few days ago, so I braced myself and sat down for a dedicated listen.
I found myself hooked almost immediately. After a short expository narration, “The Odysseus” bursts forth with dueling guitars and majestic sweeps before launching into an intense up-tempo riff. Its melodies are incredibly catchy, but unpredictable; the song shifted in ways that I didn’t expect, keeping me on my toes and holding my attention. My expectations now completely shattered, I settled myself in and let myself get swept away in the experience.
Barton’s Odyssey is what Ovid’s Withering‘s Scryers of the Ibis would sound like if you stripped away all but the slightest traces of deathcore. It’s similarly cinematic in its presentation- though the story isn’t quite as epic in scope, using the real-world Otis Barton as inspiration- but with more fluid song structure and a greater use of melody. Each song is quite distinct from the other as well; ideas are rarely recycled and all tie back to a central theme, allowing the music to flourish and while remaining focused, it keeps the journey feeling fresh and exciting.
And it really does feel like a journey; Odyssey is excellently paced, maintaining the momentum built in “The Odysseus” through the course of its duration. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with this album in spite of my initial expectations, and I can certainly see myself revisiting it multiple times in the future. Atlantis Chronicles have delivered an album that’s a lot of fun and an enjoyable listen, and in the end, that’s all I really ask for from a tech death album.
Sleepless Empire and Atlantis Chronicles can both be found at the Bandcamp links above and at their respective Facebook pages. If you like what you heard, swing by and leave them a hearty “glub glub” from the Toilet. Until next week,
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