ARCHSPIRE — Relentless Mutation (review)

ARCHSPIRE — Relentless Mutation album cover Album · 2017 · Technical Death Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4.5/5 ·
A few months back, I watched a video review of this album on Banger TV on YouTube. I was intrigued first because the band is from Vancouver (my old stomping grounds) and second because of what the reviewer had to say about the music (I believe the rating was four and a half skulls out of five). I finally ordered it only a few weeks ago and only recently have I been able to lend some valuable ear time to this album.

I can’t believe how short it is! Barely 30 minutes! But then, there are only seven songs. Nevertheless, those seven songs make for one very complete album. By the time it’s all over, you might feel as though you just stepped of a rollercoaster ride, the kind that sends you careering through machinegun crossfire in an ashen landscape of smoke and fire before at times lifting you abruptly into peaceful, lulling and lush pastures, and then dropping you back down into bombast and mayhem.

But this is no ordinary mayhem. It’s super tight and quite remarkable that these lads can play at such speeds with so many stops and abrupt tempo changes. While tech/extreme metal is something I’ve only become acquainted with in the last year or so, I am truly amazed at the dexterity and timing skill bands like Between the Buried and Me, Protest the Hero, Decrepit Birth, and Obscura exhibit. Archspire easily fit into this kind of highly technical playing and composing.

One thing I really notice when listening to this album is that I can pick out each track from the others. Some death metal albums have an overall sound which is awesome but each track blends into the others with little variation. Archspire add some standard heavy riffing in breaks between the rapid-fire, single-note picking and just as easily they can slow down, ease off and go clean (those are the lush, pastoral parts).

Three things to point out specifically. Jared Smith’s bass playing is stunning. Dude can easily keep up with the guitarists in notes per second but with, what’s that?, tapping and hammering? Chords? Awesome! Spencer Prewett’s drumming is intense and pummeling and, to my ears, sounds really well recorded and mixed. It must be quite a feat to get the four musicians playing that fast and that tight live. Finally, Oli Peters vocals stand out because at times they sound like a percussive instrument or fill the role of percussion. Oh, yes, there’s the usual death metal growl and the modern obligatory reverse screaming that sounds like pig squeals. But he fires off the lyrics in ultra-quick staccato: chu-ku-ta, chu-ku-ta, chu-ta-ga. This is punctuated by blast beats, and it’s something I haven’t heard done quite like this. In fact, this very vocal style was highlighted during the Banger TV review of the album.

I get such a rush while listening to this CD. I think the band was very wise to make it so brief. Seven distinct songs of extremely fast, tight, technical playing with a number of surprises. I am so very pleased to hear a Vancouver band performing this challenging music at such a high level of ability. Stay tech!
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6 months ago
I’ve been snooping about a bit myself. Too much of anything Hong can make a subgenre sound repetitive but a few awesome and distinctive bands are awesome exciting. I like these guys.
siLLy puPPy wrote:
6 months ago
Yay! More tech death metal for me to check out. My favorite modern form of extreme metal.

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