Tech Death Thursday: Warforged
I AM THOROUGHLY SPOOKED
QUICK HAVE SOME NEWS:
- Flub has a new tune out that sounds like it was written by wizards. It’s worth noting that vocalist Michael Alvarez sounds substantially better here than he did on the last Alterbeast album, a perfect example of how production can make or break your record. Look for Flub on June 7th.
- Sick new Allegaeon jams demand your attention. Apoptosis lands tomorrow.
- Wastewalker has a pre-pro teaser up, and even in its rough form, the new tunes are sounding pretty legit. If you’re unfamiliar with these guys, now’s a perfect time to go get acquainted. Lowborn is out on July 23rd.
This is the music I live for. Warforged is doing some incredible stuff, and you need to hear this asap.
Listening to Essence of the Land, it’s obvious that Warforged fits with The Artisan Era’s formidable roster. The meat of the EP is progressive tech death, smart in writing and deft in execution, a sonic neighbor to last year’s Aethereus album. It’s similarly dark, as well, but of a different flavor; whereas Absentia was introspective and mournful, Essence exudes an air of subtle horror. While it’s very much a tech death album, shades of Necrophagist and Obscura coloring the music, there’s a sense of something lurking in the shadows of the musical frenzy that only truly rears its head in the acoustic intro and outro. On top of the incredible musicianship, this is a very cohesive EP, much akin to Black Crown Initiate’s Song of the Crippled Bull. It’s not quite as ambitious in scope, but it’s an incredibly tight listen nonetheless.
If Essence of the Land is a furtive glimpse into a nightmare, then I: Voice is the band ensorcelled by that nightmare, possessed by it, channeling it into an observable audio form. The lurking horror of the EP has burst into full view, characterized by heavily distorted screams and clashing chords and melodies. The rhythmic structures and the way the percussion delivers them feels like an anxiety attack made manifest. The acoustic passages, previously relegated to bookends, now punctuate the chaos, but they’re entirely nerve-wracking rather than relaxing. They come on suddenly, a system shock as you grow accustomed to the chaos, and are interrupted equally as suddenly and always violently. There is no respite to be found here.
Make no mistake, however; beneath the hideous dissonance and oppressive atmosphere, this is still a tech death album. The musicianship has been stepped up considerably on Voice, which is no mean feat, given how strong it was before. “Cellar” puts the focus largely on gargantuan, savage riffing, giving way to some off-putting serene shredding that flows into “Nightfall Came” (which paints a picture of sublime moonlight before breaking the stillness with some truly monstrous dissonant riffs). “Eat Them While They Sleep” borders on deathcore territory with the dissonant chugs at its beginning and incorporates some madcap jazzy piano, and closer “The Color of My Memory” kicks off a pure tech attack.
The production has improved substantially as well, and not just the engineering aspect of it. Yes, the instruments are all much clearer and the mix is much better, but I’m talking about the more “meta” aspects of the album creation process. Every aspect of it contributes to the atmosphere of the album: the distorted vocals make them heavier, but it also makes them more alien. Someone, be it a band member or a producer, also clearly has an understanding of the importance of dynamics- a rarity in metal as a whole and particularly so in death metal- and it makes every break hit that much harder. The multiple layers of synth and acoustic guitar are disturbing on their own, but even more so with strategic use of panning effects and this recurring thrumming synth bit. If you want to hear the full package in play, check out the video for the title track above. On top of its unsettling imagery, it captures the true essence of the band, showcasing every side of their sound in one song.
While the album (and the band) is good enough on its own, it also boasts a staggering fourteen guest appearances. I won’t list them all here, but some highlights include Christian Muenzner (Alkaloid), Will Smith (Artificial Brain), Kevin Hufnagel (Gorguts), and Dan Gargiulo (Revocation). If my words don’t sell it, the fact that this many incredible musicians lent their talents to this record should.
I’m generally not a fan of making flagrant album of the year claims in April, but… man, this is it. Warforged are showing genuine innovation with their music that doesn’t go entirely off the deep end into wild hot jazz/black metal fusion or harsh noise. While I don’t want to knock that or anyone into it, I admire a group that can make something that sounds truly new in the realm of more palatable styles of music. Moreover, I don’t think I’ve ever been this unsettled by a piece of music before. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go watch Hereditary to calm down a bit.
I: Voice is available on May 10th through The Artisan Era. Since you’ll have plenty of time to wait between now and then, you can also jam their previous EP and long-ass single on Bandcamp. Be sure to follow Warforged on Facebook as well.
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.