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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DEATH The Sound of Perseverance Album Cover The Sound of Perseverance
DEATH
4.40 | 106 ratings
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DEATH Symbolic Album Cover Symbolic
DEATH
4.39 | 147 ratings
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DEATH Individual Thought Patterns Album Cover Individual Thought Patterns
DEATH
4.30 | 98 ratings
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GORGUTS Colored Sands Album Cover Colored Sands
GORGUTS
4.42 | 23 ratings
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NILE What Should Not be Unearthed Album Cover What Should Not be Unearthed
NILE
4.58 | 11 ratings
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OBSCURA Omnivium Album Cover Omnivium
OBSCURA
4.35 | 31 ratings
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DEATH Human Album Cover Human
DEATH
4.27 | 100 ratings
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ATHEIST Unquestionable Presence Album Cover Unquestionable Presence
ATHEIST
4.27 | 59 ratings
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CRYPTOPSY None So Vile Album Cover None So Vile
CRYPTOPSY
4.33 | 28 ratings
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BEYOND CREATION The Aura Album Cover The Aura
BEYOND CREATION
4.42 | 13 ratings
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NILE Annihilation of the Wicked Album Cover Annihilation of the Wicked
NILE
4.22 | 38 ratings
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AUGURY Fragmentary Evidence Album Cover Fragmentary Evidence
AUGURY
4.30 | 17 ratings
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technical death metal Music Reviews

PIAH MATER The Wandering Daughter

Album · 2018 · Technical Death Metal
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Kev Rowland
Brazilian-based progressive death metal outfit Piah Mater was formed in 2010 by guitarists Luiz Felipe Netto and Igor Meira, as an outlet for their personal approach to sombre melodies, high-energy riffs and unconventional song structures. 2014 saw the release of their debut album ‘Memories of Inexistence’, since when they have brought drummer Kalki Avatara onboard, and they are now releasing their second album. These guys move between some progressive and melodic rock elements, as well as going full into death and even atmospheric black metal. There are times when the vocals are melodic and softly sung, others when they have been influenced more by Dio, and then others where they are incredibly gruff and unintelligible.

Now, I like my metal to be complex, and there is no doubt that these guys really know what they are doing, with some incredibly complex passages. The issue here is that they are so good at the multiple different styles on show, that it actually detracts from the music as a whole. They jump around from one style to another within the same song, multiple times, and it becomes quite hard to listen t. It is undoubtedly clever, and there is no doubting their skills, but there are times when “less is more” and I know I didn’t enjoy this album nearly as much as I would have done if there had been more focus on what they were doing.

Eclectic in many ways, I found this a really difficult album to get inside, and even playing it multiple times just got me more annoyed with it, and I just can’t warm to it at all which is a real shame as they certainly know what they are doing

ARSIS Visitant

Album · 2018 · Technical Death Metal
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Kev Rowland
‘Visitant’, is the first new album from famed metal act Arsis in five years, and to show they mean business it was recorded, mixed and mastered at Audio Hammer Studio with producer Mark Lewis (Whitechapel, Devildriver, Cannibal Corpse). It features cover artwork and layout from Mark Riddick (Arch Enemy, Morbid Angel, Varathron) and features guest appearances by Trevor Strand (The Black Dahlia Murder) and Malcolm Pugh (Inferi). The Virginia Beach-based quartet derived its name from the musical term "arsis and thesis", in which "arsis" refers to the unaccented part of a measure. The name's origin comes as no surprise, considering co-founder's James Malone's classical education in music (as well as providing guitar and vocals for Arsis, he is a skilled violinist and a composition major), which in turn adds a whole new layer to the way in which they sound. This is death metal that is righteously tinged with black and thrash influences, but is completely dedicated to expanding the reaches of melodicism and technicality in the genre.

Many people may point to the aggression of the twin guitars, the over the top vocals, or the drum attack as to why this band hit so hard, but for me the star of the sound is Noah Martin whose intricate bass playing pins everything together. There is a warmth to his sound, and he can be found providing either perfect support or counterpoint, working either with the drums or the guitars to ensure that each song is being taken into the stratosphere. Arsis commented on ‘Visitant’: "With a meticulous attention to detail and hooks, we feel as though we have created our most honest and dark record to date". Guitarist and vocalist James Malone elaborates: "I wanted to do something different with the lyrical themes for this album and it was just a natural move to incorporate a passion for horror into Visitant. As I was doing my part of the writing I tried to capture the tone and atmosphere of some of my favourite films (Silver Bullet, From Beyond, Prince Of Darkness). It was a very satisfying and fun album to write and I think it might be what fans consider a 'worthy follow-up' to ‘A Diamond For Disease’."

This, their sixth studio album, shows that Arsis have no intention at all of slowing down, and have created something that is taking melodic technical death metal into new areas, stretching the genre so that in some ways it is almost becoming mainstream, while still pushing the boundaries of acceptability. Well worth investigating.

PORTAL The Sweyy

EP · 2004 · Technical Death Metal
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siLLy puPPy
THE SWEYY is an EP released by PORTAL between their debut “Seepia” and their second album “Outré” that was limited to a mere 150 copies on CDs.

This EP contains 5 tracks, 3 new studio tracks, 2 of which (“Werships” and the title track) would be reworked and appear on the third album “Swarth.”

The last 2 tracks are live performances from the Bloodlust III Festival in 2003. Both “Atmoblisters” and “Transcending A Mere Multiverse” were taken from the debut album “Seepia.”

The studio tracks of the EP would also find their way onto a split with the band Rites Of Thy Degringolade titled “The Sweyy / Our Dreadful Spire.”

The only track that never would appear elsewhere in any form is “Doors.”

The studio tracks continue the same brutal and technical blackened death metal submerged in a dark ambient atmosphere and comes off as some of the most surreal tech death metal to be experienced, however the riffs are slowed down a bit from “Seepia” and don’t sound as chaotic. These are clearly easier to follow than the unrelenting bantering and jagged zigzagging delivery of the debut.

The live tracks display the band in a reverberant concert setting which shows an adaptation of the surreal extreme metal quite well to perform in front of a audience. Absent are the ethereal and otherworldly production effects that exude dark ambient doom and gloom but on the metal side of the equation they deliver the bizarre formless compositions exquisitely without missing a beat. Only the audience screams at the end reveal a live setting.

This is one of those that’s interesting to experience but not particularly essential either since nothing on here is better than the studio albums that sandwich it. Well worth a listen or two for fans as it’s played quite well and offers an insight into another dimension of the band’s music but hardly a must-have.

PORTAL Seepia

Album · 2003 · Technical Death Metal
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siLLy puPPy
PORTAL emerged from the land down under back in the early naughts and has become one of the underground extreme metal’s most celebrated disturbers of the peace (and sanity) ever since they released their debut album SEEPIA back in 2003. These masked musical miscreants and lovers of all things Lovecraftian deliver an angsty approach to horror filled lyricism dressed up in some of the most disturbingly caustic metal music imaginable. They also perform live as deranged Victorian space age cowboys. Now how’s that for disturbing?

While following in the steps of bands like Gorguts and Morbid Angel, musically speaking, these guys take the distorted guitar riffing of death metal, black metal lo-fi production and turn them into experimental formless rhythms that ebb and flow like a Salvador Dalí painting exploding into a million pieces not to mention the bizarre dark ambient segments that begin each track as they melt your mind before pummeling it with bombastic bantering bliss.

With a name like PORTAL, one can expect a type of sound that transports you far away into interdimensional hyperdrive, like a wormhole inside a jackhammer that sounds as if a tsunami has devastated an electrical plant and all that remains are hissing sizzling live wire cables flailing around like freshly decapitated chickens on a poultry farm. One can hardly find music so off-kilter that’s it’s practically impossible for the non-initiated to grasp any bearings whatsoever.

Yes, this will surely come of as the most chaotic of noise for even lovers of melodic death metal. This “music” is a formless, chaotic glob of intensity that wriggles around at speeds so dizzying that one could easily lose one’s soul in the process. This is the kind of musical madness that is designed to overwhelm the senses, to suffocate the soul, to reign terror and destruction into the hearts of mankind and ultimately succeeds profusely.

SEEPIA is utterly brilliant in how it takes protoplasm shaped dark ambient sounds that struggle to remain stationary as they pulsate and melt into oblivion only to be replaced by the pyrotechnic bombast of the swirling undulation of death metal pummelation. The sole exception to this formula is the completely dark ambient “Antiquate” which preludes the entirely tech death finale “The EndMills.”

PORTAL devilishly portended an entirely new slice of tech death metal in 2003 with SEEPIA as they effortlessly amalgamated the most surreal aspects of dark ambient and applied them to an extreme metal context. While bands like Esoteric tread similar arenas in the context of funeral doom metal, PORTAL provided the proper entry into the quickened and unforgiving alienating worlds of psychotically derived death metal taken into wildly psychedelic and insanely unnerving worlds. This is a short album just short of 32 minutes.

While criticized for what some deem a lackluster production, the band has stated that this very production is what allows the effervescence of the swirls of sound to all emerge from the volcanic explosive underbelly of the beast. If the metal were catapulted into the forefront, all the freakiness would be buried beneath the din. The production is quite unique and most evokes the raw and primeval aspects of underground metal. If surreal extreme metal is what you’re craving, then PORTAL will help you drift off into unimaginable worlds where absolutely nothing is what you expect it be, except perhaps disturbing.

DE PROFUNDIS The Blinding Light of Faith

Album · 2018 · Technical Death Metal
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Kev Rowland
Over the course of the last decade De Profundis have built themselves an enviable reputation for delivering music of staggering power and breathtaking skill, both in the studio and on the stage. Although many think of them as a technical death metal band, I actually believe that they would be better stated to be extreme prog metal as they continue to transcend any particular genre, using one form as a base and then going wherever they wish. Earlier this year they released their fifth full-length album, ‘The Blinding Light of Faith’, through Transcending Obscurity Records and they have now signed a deal with Lusitanian Music to release the album as a limited vinyl edition. This allows the listener to study in detail the intricate, nightmarish album artwork created by Alex Tartsus (Sinister, Depravity etc.) while the band’s new logo, also stands out far more than in would in the smaller CD version.

The band have been known to be influenced by doom in the past, and it does point its nose in at different points during the album, but what makes this such a delight is the sheer refusal to conform to any particular pre-conceived ideas. There are times when this is out and out technical death, others when it is almost power metal in its approach, but it is consistently bending and melding, creating something which is always powerful and dynamic, but twisting into different directions so that no-one can work out where and how it is going to end. I find the production really interesting as well, as in many ways it exaggerates the melodic power of the music, with a bass line that is often found to be wandering along creating a sub-melody without the level of attack that one may expect from this form of music.

Incredibly detailed and layered, this is an incredibly complex album which listeners will gain more from each and every time it is played. It is hard to imagine an more imaginative death metal album being released by anyone this year.

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