ARCHSPIRE — Relentless Mutation (review)

ARCHSPIRE — Relentless Mutation album cover Album · 2017 · Technical Death Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
Relentless Mutation is the third album from Canada’s Archspire. Having not heard them until now I thought I’d better check out the first two before reviewing this one, at least in part, which I did selecting a few random tracks from each.

Relentless Mutation is more of the same – that is to say high precision technical death metal displaying admiral musicianship. Most of it’s played at breakneck speed through a blur of blast beats supplied by the impressive Spencer Prewett. Unfortunately it’s marred by a thin boxy drum sound whilst high on definition lacks power. Having said that his busy playing style could have ended up getting lost in a more organic sound so I guess you can’t have it all. The guitar work of Tobi Morelli and Dean Lamb is equally dextrous as they reel off riff after riff and solos of the most complex variety. The opener Involuntary Doppelganger is the perfect case in point and sets the scene for pretty much what you can expect from the rest of the album. Midway however there’s an unexpected surprise with a short but sweet arpeggiated guitar part which adds a bit of colour to the largely relentless onslaught. Similar parts make a welcome appearance now and then throughout the album, most notably on the title track marking it as one of the highlights.

Whilst this kind of stuff can often come across as cold and clinical, as it does fairly often here, there is an injection of melody here and there, more apparent in the lead guitar work which adds some warmth. The vocals have a staccato attack that can sound a little one dimensional at times but nevertheless Oli Peters displays some fairly impressive phrasing. The production whilst lacking a bit of power is at least clear which is pretty essential for music of this complexity. Jared Smith’s dextrous bass work pleasingly cuts through aided by quite a toppy sound.

I’m usually pretty selective in my choice of tech death listening but at only thirty minutes Relentless Mutation doesn’t outstay its welcome. The musicianship is faultless and compositionally it’s good and quite inventive throwing in a few curveballs here and there. Having said that it’s still more an album I can admire rather than love, my preference generally being for something more organic sounding. If this is your thing however there’s plenty to recommend here.
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