Thanksgiving is a weird one this year; with the continued proliferation of COVID-19, we’re keeping gatherings small if hosting them at all in the first place. And with morale as low as it is, it’s been difficult to work up the desire to either write or do anything particularly special on the home front; as I’m writing this (the morning of Thanksgiving), my partner is out in the kitchen doing some last-minute food prep. With all this in mind, we’re keeping Techsgiving to a smaller, more intimate affair as well. And while we may be covering only two bands today, rest assured they’re absolutely worth your time and attention.
For the main course, we have the newest from Contrarian, Only Time Will Tell. The band’s fourth album sees the return of vocalist Cody McConnell and with him those sweet, sweet toilety gurgles from their debut. As one might expect of an album coming so hot on the heels of its predecessor (Their Worm Never Dies came out in spring of last year), not too much has changed with regards to the band’s sound. They still play their modernized take on classic prog death, a splicing together of melodic ideas of latter-day Death with the more progressive bent of Augury, but with tighter and more concise songwriting than either of them. And that’s the band’s biggest strength: they take these complex ideas and trim the fat from them to the point where you’re only left with the essentials, making each song a very focused listen despite their progressive nature. In keeping with tradition, they go for a sort of live feel with everything as well. Rarely do you hear more than two guitars, a bass, drums, and vocals, and there’s little if any post-production cleanup on the performances. The band is very tight, don’t get me wrong, but it’s nice hearing much more of a human element in the performance than you typically get from virtuosic death metal.
In terms of the songs themselves, as previously mentioned, little has changed in the songwriting between this and Worm; whether you like one over the other will largely come down to personal taste. For what it’s worth, I think this is probably their best work to date in that sense. I’ve found the riffs and the melodies have stuck much more than their past material, and a little experimentation takes some of these songs a long way. My personal favorites are “Beat the Clock,” featuring a melding of retro-futurist synthwave sound with spacey leads and some incredible drum work, and “The Mega Metropolis,” in which the band uses their penchant for fifth harmonies to really push that big imposing regal feel into a thrashy banger of a tune. It’s all good shit, though, and it’s great for when you want some prog death that won’t leave you feeling mentally exhausted and overstuffed by the end.
Dessert is a little bite of an old standby and easily enjoyable by non-tech nerds as well. Pyscroptic returns with a new EP, The Watcher of All, out tomorrow on Prosthetic Records. With seven full-lengths under their belt, you likely know what you’re in for here; the good news is that they’re still going as strong as ever. Watcher is very much cut from the same cloth as As the Kingdom Drowns, written as a direct continuation of the latter’s musical and lyrical ideas. As always, the band is slave to the riff, and these two songs go hard as hell. It’s fast, it’s aggressive, and the instrumental prowess is incredible. I like that the songs are a bit thicker this time around, much as with Kingdom; the single-guitar approach made some of their previous work just a bit thin, but adding more layers of chords and effects breaths a ton of life into the compositions, particularly on “A Fragile Existence.” Not that it’s ever been bad, but that extra dynamic helps round out the extremely headbanging riffs that much more. This is great stuff, and it makes me that much more excited for their upcoming full-length.
That’s all for today; hopefully at least one of these sates your appetite for sick tech jams. Be sure to check out Contrarian and Psycroptic on Facebook and pick up their albums at BC links above. And I sincerely hope you all have a good day today; call your family or friends, do something nice for yourself, whatever you need. Until next time,