Technical Death Metal

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Technical/progressive (or tech/prog) death metal is considered a legitimate genre by some (or even two legitimate genres), while others argue that it is a pseudo-genre. Bands included in this genre take emphasize technicality in their music, in the form of complex riffs and/or complex song structures, while others apply the ethos of progressive music more broadly without straying from their basic death metal sound. Death, Cynic and Atheist are considered central bands in the establishment of tech/prog death metal. Some bands, like Necrophagist, Obscura, and Braindrill, emphasize technique in their style and are considered technical death metal acts, while others, such as Opeth, Neuraxis, Sectu, and Nocturnus are considered primarily progressive death metal. Sometimes, jazz death metal is listed as a separate subgenre and comprises artists who incorporate elements from fusion jazz into their death metal style, such as Atheist, Cynic and Pestilence on “Spheres”. Given that brutal death metal bands tend to emphasize technique and compositional complexity, many brutal death metal bands, such as Suffocation and Hate Eternal, are also categorized as technical death metal bands. Some tech/prog death metal bands are so progressive on some releases that these are considered progressive metal rather than death metal, as is the case of some Atheist, Opeth and Cynic releases, that they are filed under progressive metal in the MMA rather than under death metal.

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technical death metal top albums

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DEATH Symbolic Album Cover Symbolic
DEATH
4.43 | 173 ratings
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DEATH The Sound of Perseverance Album Cover The Sound of Perseverance
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GORGUTS Colored Sands Album Cover Colored Sands
GORGUTS
4.46 | 29 ratings
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DEATH Individual Thought Patterns Album Cover Individual Thought Patterns
DEATH
4.33 | 123 ratings
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CRYPTOPSY None So Vile Album Cover None So Vile
CRYPTOPSY
4.38 | 36 ratings
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ATHEIST Unquestionable Presence Album Cover Unquestionable Presence
ATHEIST
4.31 | 78 ratings
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BEYOND CREATION The Aura Album Cover The Aura
BEYOND CREATION
4.43 | 18 ratings
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NOCTURNUS The Key Album Cover The Key
NOCTURNUS
4.39 | 22 ratings
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NILE What Should Not be Unearthed Album Cover What Should Not be Unearthed
NILE
4.38 | 22 ratings
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AUGURY Fragmentary Evidence Album Cover Fragmentary Evidence
AUGURY
4.35 | 22 ratings
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NILE Those Whom the Gods Detest Album Cover Those Whom the Gods Detest
NILE
4.29 | 38 ratings
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NILE Annihilation of the Wicked Album Cover Annihilation of the Wicked
NILE
4.25 | 48 ratings
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technical death metal Music Reviews

ACID DEATH Hall of Mirrors

Album · 2015 · Technical Death Metal
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UMUR
"Hall of Mirrors" is the 4th full-length studio album by Greek technical/progressive death/thrash metal act Acid Death. The album was released through 7Hard Records in September 2015. It´s the successor to "Eidolon" from 2012 although the two full-length releases are bridged by the 2013 "MisleD 2013 Re-recorded" EP. There has been one lineup change since "Eidolon (2012)" as guitarist Kostas Karavelas has been replaced by John Anagnostou.

Stylistically the material on "Hall of Mirrors" continue in the same technical/progressive death metal direction as the material on "Eidolon (2012)". It´s music strongly influenced by the early 90s technical/progressive death metal scene (artists like Death and especially the Italian Sadist come to mind). It´s a bit more contemporary sounding though, which means it´s a little more heavy and groove oriented than the 90s influences. The title track is for example a full fledged groove metal track.

"Hall of Mirrors" features a well sounding production job, tight and skilled musicianship, and the material is well written and effective. The combination of 90s technical/progressive death metal elements and more contemporary heavy groove metal oriented elements won´t please all listeners, but there´s nothing wrong with the execution or the overall album package. This is a quality release and a 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

FLOURISHING The Sum of All Fossils

Album · 2011 · Technical Death Metal
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Nightfly
Metal Music Archives Reviewer's Challenge: June 2022

New York’s Flourishing are a new band to me and having released this, The Sum Of All Fossils, their one and only album back in 2011 it’s easy to see how they passed me by. Still, better late than never and I’m always intrigued by death metal bands that go down the dissonant road. It’s a branch of death metal that is difficult to do well as it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of producing a cacophonous mess. Bands like Immolation and Gorguts have been doing it so well for so long I find myself constantly referencing them when listening to like-minded bands. Okay, the former may not be as extreme as some but to my ears they have perfected it, with the right balance between discord and crushing compelling riffs.

The Sum Of All Fossils like most of its ilk won’t reveal itself immediately. This sort of stuff requires time and patience as by its nature you have to dig deeper to find the rewards. You don’t always get them of course but fortunately it’s worth spending some time with Flourishing. I could list far better examples of technical death metal on the dissonant side of things but these guys are no slouches. A pre-requisite is strong musicianship which this trio clearly have, to be able to follow all the twists and turns that they throw at you. Most importantly though it still needs great riffs to back it all up. This is where they lose a few marks as whilst you’ll find them at times I’m not convinced by them and not drawn in. They do introduce lighter moments which are welcome though don’t always work like on Momentary Senses but serve their purpose by making the heavier parts even more crushing. When they get it right though, which they do frequently, it’s really very good like on Summary. At just over four minutes it’s the shortest song on the album and cuts out any unnecessary flab.

The production is decent too though I would have preferred the drums a bit heavier as they are a bit on the thin side, but each instrument is clearly heard in the mix as are the vocals which whilst being unexceptional do the job.

Overall then I quite enjoyed The Sum Of All Fossils and it’s a shame they didn’t follow it up with album number 2 (they split up in 2014) as I’m sure they could have developed their songwriting skills considerably. They did however follow it up with an EP which showed promise. Still it’s a decent if small legacy.

FLOURISHING The Sum of All Fossils

Album · 2011 · Technical Death Metal
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DippoMagoo
Metal Music Archives Reviewer's Challenge: June 2022

Technical death metal is a genre I have a bit of a mixed relationship with. I find the more ultra technical side of the genre can sometimes be tough for me to get into, with the music often getting so lost in technical precision that it's hard to find anything to grab onto. However, there are some bands in the genre who offer up a good mix of heaviness, technicality and melodic death metal to help make things easy to get into. Then there's a band like the now defunct American band Flourishing, who offer up their own unique take on the genre for their debut (and sole full length release) The Sum of All Fossils, throwing in a mix of sludge and post-hardcore elements to go along with the main tech death sound. But while the album may have a distinct sound, the most important thing is whether or not that results in an enjoyable album. Well.......

I've had a somewhat mixed experience with The Sum of All Fossils, to say the least. Initially, it took me a few minutes to adjust to the rather raw sound, since I tend to be more inclined to genres with cleaner production, so my first experience of the album wasn't too great. Once I adjusted to it, though, I found myself hooked in, and started enjoying the music. However, by the end of my first listen I found myself a bit confused, as while parts of the album instantly impressed me, there were other parts that seemed to go in one ear and out the other. Several listens later, and unfortunately not a whole lot has changed.

Lets get to the basics, first. In terms of style, Flourishing play a rather interesting brand of tech death, with a very aggressive sound, utilizing frantic drums and down-tuned guitars (the tone reminds a bit of Fear Factory on occasion), and they like to throw in a lot of different sound effects, including some high pitched screeching noises, as well as what appear to be some audio samples every once in a while. The guitar work can get very intense at times, but there are also quite a few more atmospheric passages, and these are the parts I tend to grab onto the most, as they stand out a bit more. That being said, it is a fairly heavy and intense album throughout, often staying at a fairly moderate pace, and there are several extended sections of repeated riffs, along the lines of Gojira, though it also speeds up occasion, and those sections also help offer up a bit of variety.

I mentioned the production earlier, and I must say, despite my initial impressions on it being negative, after more experience with the album I think the sound quality is actually very good and fits the album perfectly, giving the music a raw sound, while still allowing room for everything to be heard. This certainly isn't one of those underground sounding black metal albums where you can't hear a lick of guitar, thankfully. Vocally, Garett Bussanick does a solid job, delivering the kind of deep, aggressive death growls fans of the genre would expect. There are also some rather weird clean vocal at times, such as some sorta rap sounding vocals on “The Prospects of Rejection”, and some very strange sounding screams on “By Which We're Cemented”, and while these are interesting, they aren't really used often enough to leave much of an impression.

In terms of sound, while this album may not be my usual style, I do think everything is performed very well, and the sound quality is quite good. Where I find the album suffers a bit, however, is in the songwriting. Honestly, trying to break this album down song by song is very difficult. I find while most tracks have memorable moments, such as methodical marching drums at the end of “By Which We're Cemented” (an overall more atmospheric track than most), the aforementioned sections with weird vocals, an intense tempo change near the beginning of opening track “A Thimble's Worth”, and some intense riffs and weird sound effects on closer “As If Bathed in Excellence”, it's hard to really point out a single track as being memorable in full. I do think “By Which We're Cemented” is probably my favorite here, with its slower paced, more sludge metal sound, while the second half of the album on the whole is fairly forgettable aside from a fairly solid closing track. Otherwise, it's hard to really say much about any of the tracks, as they all tend to blend together. Sometimes, that can work fine, such as on both full length albums by one man black metal band Aquilus, where everything feels like a cohesive whole and I'm constantly engaged the whole way through, but sadly this is an album where aside from a few memorable points throughout, I'm rarely all that engaged by the music, and it often passes me by largely unnoticed.

In the end, The Sum of All Fossils is a tough album to judge, because I think it is a very well made album, by a band who clearly has talent, and it's clear there's an audience for it, but on a personal level I find well over half of it simply goes in one ear and out the other. It's an enjoyable listen, but at the end of the day, I'm remembering very little of it even immediately after listening to it. The band has since split up, though Bussanick and bassist Eric Rizk have since gone on to form a new band called Aeviterne. Even after giving their full length debut, The Ailing Facade a single listen, it's clear their music is both more refined in terms of overall performance quality, and much more memorable when it comes to the songwriting. So, while this album in particular didn't leave me overly impressed, it did lead to me discovering a potentially great band with a very promising future.

FLOURISHING The Sum of All Fossils

Album · 2011 · Technical Death Metal
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Vim Fuego
Metal Music Archives Reviewer's Challenge: June 2022

Death metal got disconnected somewhere along the line.

When the genre first spawned from bands who found thrash metal wasn’t extreme enough for them, the focus was mainly on big riffs and brutality. Like thrash before it, there was a certain melodic groove to it, albeit buried under layers of monstrous guitars, thunderous drums, and bestial vocals.

Fast forward to the 21st century and for some strange reason, new death metal bands don’t seem to have anywhere near the same focus on musicality. Instead, it seems technical prowess, off-the-wall time signatures and arrangements, and headache-inducing discordance are the flavour of the time instead. The old bands realised death metal is still music, while the newer ones don’t.

A bit of dissonance and discordance, and brutal technicality can be great to listen to, but such things need to allow room for the underlying music to breathe, otherwise you may as well listen to Merzbow demolish buildings with decorated amplified white noise. Enter Flourishing, who connected things back up again.

“The Sum of All Fossils” has the groove and expressiveness so beloved by death metal’s founders, while incorporating the brutal technicality and clashing disharmonia so ever-present in today’s death metal. This is undoubtedly a death metal album, but thrown in are elements of Neurosis-like post-apocalyptic guitar scrapes, Skin Chamber’s industro-death blown throat dual vocals, and some big sludgy chunks of Crowbar. Imagine a harder edged Gojira partnered with pre-prog Pestilence, and Disharmonic Orchestra overseeing it all with bleak surrealistic cyberpunk lyrics.

There’s nothing as conventional as intro/verse/chorus/verse/chorus/outro songwriting here. The music, like the lyrics, seems to be stream of consciousness, but at the same time seems precise and rehearsed rather than loose and improvised. While the music is compelling and hard to break from, the lyricism seems dense and impenetrable. Observe “Fossil Record”: “Rates increase all the time and embrace all of these thoughts. So lost. Photographs fade in every era. Left with their solitude. Reasoning dulls. Voids become deep. Alarm. They plant seeds of high purpose. Mortals drone on.” It’s a bleak but powerful vision of… what? It seems left to the listener’s interpretation.

This is an album-sized exercise in brutality and beauty to be consumed in it’s entirety, rather than trying to pluck song from song, as it is a singular vision viewed in eight parts rather than a collection of eight songs squeezed together and called an album. “The Sum of All Fossils” fills a missing link between two divergent, distantly related metal sub-genre which share a common ancestor, but long ago branched in different directions.

ACID DEATH MisleD 2013 Re-recorded

EP · 2013 · Technical Death Metal
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UMUR
"MisleD 2013 Re-recorded" is an EP release by Greek technical/progressive death/thrash metal act Acid Death. The EP was independently released in March 2013. It bridges the gap between the band´s third and fourth full-length studio albums "Eidolon (2012)" and "Hall of Mirrors (2015)". As the title of the EP suggests this is a re-recording of most of Acid Death´s material from the 1994 "Misled/Deformed Beyond Belief" split release with Avulsed plus the title track from the 1992 ""Balance of Power"" EP.

The music style is technical death metal in the old school end of the scale. Think late 80s/early 90s Death and maybe the Italians in Sadist, and you´re halfway there. Acid Death are a well playing unit and the snarling growling vocals are delivered with the right amount of caustic aggression and conviction. If you´re familiar with the musical direction of the material on "Eidolon (2012)" it´s not surprising that Acid Death chose to re-record material from the early part of their career, as there are many similarities between the material on "Eidolon (2012)" and the material featured on "MisleD 2013 Re-recorded". Gone are the jazz/fusion influences and odd experimental ideas from the late 90s/early 00s albums.

"MisleD 2013 Re-recorded" features a powerful, raw, and well sounding production, which suits the material well. The material could have been a little more memorable but it´s a minor issue and overall the EP is a quality technical daeth metal release and a 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

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