Tech Un-Death Thursday
Turns out that singing and staying tech aren’t mutually exclusive. We explore this bizarre phenomenon on this special edition of Tech Death Thursday.
First, in death-related news:
- Ezra Haynes, beard connoisseur and man of science, is sadly no longer part of Allegaeon. Filling in for him on their upcoming tour with Act of Defiance will be Riley McShane of Son of Aurelius, Inanimate Existence, and Continuum renown. Full tour dates can be found on Allegaeon’s Facebook or Act of Defiance’s Metal Blade page, for those of you less social networking-inclined.
- Zillah’s Serpentine Halo comes out Friday, and if you’re impatient like me, you can stream it in full at NCS and preorder it at Bandcamp. It’s, like, good and stuff.
- Do you ever find yourself wishing your tech death was happier? If so, you’re a filthy lifelover, and you should check out “The Prescient (Part I)” by Antlion. Otherwise, give the decidedly less happy “Hubris” a listen and look for The Prescient on October 23rd.
- Fungus, named after the most brutal kingdom of eukaryotes, have an equally brutal record coming on October 23rd. Stream “Computerized Humanity” and inhale some spores while you wait.
- Weeping Birth have a new album on the way through Apathia Records, and it’s sounding nasty. Check out “Hatefilled” and “Hollow” for a taste of what’s to come. And an eyeless pig-faced woman, also. As well.
While cruising the internets searching for the newest tech to bring to you fine folk, I ran across someone asking the question (and I quote): “What are some bands that would be considered technical metal, without the “death” (e.i. Incomprehensible growling)? Similar to Lamb of God or even Mudvayne?” After an hour of (unsuccessfully) trying to wrap my head around the absurdity of the second part of his question, I began to consider the merit of the former. While there are a ton of prog bands out there with varying degrees of technicality, there aren’t many bands out there that, well, sound like tech death minus the “death,” or at least none that sprang readily to mind. So, trying to (once again unsuccessfully) forget the stupid origins of my quest, I set out to find some tech not-death bands, which I have compiled into a short list for your convenience. Again, these are bands that I thought fit the paradigm of modern tech death; groups that aren’t just technical, but sound like they could play alongside the likes of Inferi, Obscura, etc.
First up, we have Spastic Ink. Formed by Rob Jarzombek after the temporary dissolution of power-prog beasts Watchtower, Spastic Ink are probably the least traditionally “tech” of the bunch. In fact, a large portion of their music would be more in line with a jazz fusion combo than tech death (not joking this time, I promise). It’s songs like the above “Aquanet” and “The Mad Data Race” that earn them a spot on this list. Both songs feature impressive dual guitar tradeoffs and absolutely blistering leads that bear striking similarities to those on The Ritual Aura’s Laniakea– except they were done over 15 years ago. Sadly, the band only ever put forth two albums- Ink Complete and Ink Compatible– both of which can be found in full on Youtube. Check this one out if you want a crazier Steven Wilson experience.
Next, we have the also sadly short-lived Spiral Architects. These guys share a lot of tonal qualities with Spastic Ink, but with a more straightforward, vicious streak. Though the song structure initially reminded me of early Dream Theater, that impression faded quickly. “Spinning” and “Insect” carry with them some downright nasty riffs accentuated by odd time signatures and bursts of high-flying guitar solos. Vocalist Oyvind Haegeland is equally impressive, sounding like a more refined Joey Belladonna at points, but it’s bassist Lars Norsberg that steals the show here. This is Beyond Creation-level wizardry happening here, but done on four strings instead of six. Check out the three-part “Cloud Constructor” for an amazing showcase of each member’s abilities, or stream the entirety of the band’s sole album above.
I would be remiss not to mention tech-instrumentalists Blotted Science. Ron Jarzombek appears once again on this list, this time joined by bassist Alex Webster (Cannibal Corpse) and drummer Hannes Grossmann (Alkaloid, Terminus Est). Blotted Science features more of Jarzombek’s signature off-kilter guitar playing, but is much meaner than Spastic Ink, undoubtedly due in part to his colleagues’ backgrounds. The guitars are tuned much lower, the tone is thicker, and the riffs are just generally heavier. They also pull off the remarkable feat of making a purely instrumental album not incredibly dull. Check out 2007’s The Machinations of Dementia above and 2011’s The Animation of Entomology right here.
Nevermore is a band that requires no introduction. Here’s one anyway, courtesy of MoshOff. While much of Nevermore’s earlier offerings lean more in a heavy/power metal direction, Jeff Loomis established himself as one of metal’s heaviest, most technical guitarists with 2003’s Enemies of Reality. Though technical aptitude wouldn’t shine forth on the riffs in most songs (the sole major exception in “Ambivalent”), the solos on this album set themselves far ahead of most other guitarists. That strength worked its way into the main themes of This Godless Endeavor’s title track and “Born,” as well as The Obsidian Conspiracy’s “The Termination Proclamation” and “And the Maiden Spoke.” Though the music on their last few albums sounds somewhat similar to older Decapitated (particularly the aforementioned “Termination Proclamation”), the vocals are entirely clean. Singer Warrel Dane spits venom throughout the discography, his semi-operatic delivery stronger than many death metal vocalists. Naturally, as is the case with half the other bands on this list, Nevermore is no longer active. That said, if Dane gets his way, we might see them return sometime in the near future.
Finally, we come to Gods of Eden. I highlighted these guys on Toilet Tuesday last week, and they fit perfectly here. Of all the bands presented here, Gods of Eden sound the most like what you’d hear from a tech death band. The difference is, of course, the vocal approach. The singer does scream for significant portions of songs, but they have more of a hardcore feel to them, like a mixture of a death growl and a yell. Of the songs that are publicly available so far, “The Overseer” displays the singer’s aptitude the best, showcasing his impressive range and powerful screams. Amongst all the new bands I’ve heard this year, Gods of Eden have grabbed my attention more than any other. This will be a band to watch.
That’s all for this week. If you’ve got any tech un-death bands I missed, don’t hesitate to share! Until next time,