Tech Death Thursday: Virophacus
Necrophagist is dead. Long live Virophacus.
- You’re getting one more new Flub song (complete with trippy video) before its June 7th release. Check out our overview if you want a primer on this excellent project.
- WAIT, or We Are In Transit, have a new EP on the way through The Artisan Era. The band features members of Exist, Defeated Sanity, and Jeff Loomis‘ solo project, and it sounds like it’s going to be pretty slick. Look for it on July 12th.
- In case you missed it, Orphalis has a new track up that goes super hard. The Approaching Darkness comes out on June 7th through Rising Nemesis.
I gotta be honest with you here: I’m not a huge fan of Necrophagist. Epitaph certainly changed the tech death game, but it gets entirely too much hype even 15 years after its release. It’s a good album, an important one for sure; I’d go as far as to say that you should listen to it at least once if you’re into tech death. But the genre has grown up and gone all kinds of interesting new places, so while you’re absolutely free to love Epitaph, holding it as the gold standard for tech really rubs me the wrong way.
So with all that out of the way, I do occasionally wonder wonder what a continuation of that sound would have yielded. With Virophacus’ debut, I think we now have the closest approximation of an accurate answer to that musing. From top to bottom, Unus sounds like brand new Muhammed Suiçmez material. That sizzling guitar tone, those crunchy growls, and the raw speed all scream Epitaph. It’s more than just the surface elements, though; as you listen, you’ll notice that small touches like the vocal phrasing and the way the pedal tones don’t quite land where you’d expect align perfectly with Necrophagist’s work. It’s melodic, but plays largely in a lower register. The solos bleed Muenzner finesse, and “Coffinbirth” even features a back-and-forth duel in the same vein as “Stabwound.”
The real selling point for me, however, is that this actually sounds like the next step in a progression rather than a one-to-one facsimile of a dead band. For starters, the lower tuning (either on a down-tuned seven-string or in A standard, not a hundred percent sure) feels like a move very much in line with the genre’s shift to heavier music over the years. “Dissent and Denial” and “Long as They Fear” feature prog elements that weren’t explored in depth on Epitaph, making use of some nontraditional chords and jaunty time signatures. While the focus is still on big, meaty tech death riffs, these little twists help keep things feeling fresh.
If you’re still struggling with the thought of never hearing new Necrophagist tunes again, I think you’ll be more than satisfied with Unus. It fills the same musical space and checks off all the boxes with shocking accuracy. Moreover, it gives us a look at growth that might have been. It sounds like an honest to goodness followup to a tech death classic, and that alone makes it worth a listen. Even independently of that, this is a fun EP; I had a good time with it despite my own aversion to its obvious influence.
Unus is available now on Bandcamp. That’s all I’ve got for you this week, so until next time,
Is your band tech as heck? Got a juicy piece of news or an upcoming release to watch? Send it my way at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll check it out. I might even talk about it.