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 The Sound of Perseverance Album Cover The Sound of Perseverance
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4.41 | 119 ratings
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DEATH Symbolic Album Cover Symbolic
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GORGUTS Colored Sands Album Cover Colored Sands
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DEATH Individual Thought Patterns Album Cover Individual Thought Patterns
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ATHEIST Unquestionable Presence Album Cover Unquestionable Presence
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BEYOND CREATION The Aura Album Cover The Aura
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CRYPTOPSY None So Vile Album Cover None So Vile
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NILE What Should Not be Unearthed Album Cover What Should Not be Unearthed
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4.41 | 16 ratings
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AUGURY Fragmentary Evidence Album Cover Fragmentary Evidence
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4.35 | 20 ratings
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NILE Those Whom the Gods Detest Album Cover Those Whom the Gods Detest
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AUGURY Concealed Album Cover Concealed
AUGURY
4.31 | 18 ratings
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ATHEIST Elements Album Cover Elements
ATHEIST
4.19 | 52 ratings
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CULT OF LILITH Mara

Album · 2020 · Technical Death Metal
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UMUR
"Mara" is the debut full-length studio album by Reykjavík based, Icelandic death metal act Cult of Lilith. The album was released through Metal Blade Records in September 2020. Cult of Lilith was formed in 2015 by guitarist Daniel Thor Hannesson and vocalist Jon Haukur Petursson. They independently released the "Arkanum" EP in 2016, which attracted the attention of Metal Blade Records, who signed Cult of Lilith for the release of "Mara". Since the release of the EP Petursson has jumped ship, and Hannesson has built a five-piece lineup for the recording of "Mara". Cult of Lilith now appear more like a band, than a project. The lineup predominantly consists of Icelandic musicians, but new lead vocalist Mario Infantes Ávalos is from Spain, and his heritage actually has some impact on the music (more on that later).

Stylistically the material on "Mara" is technical death metal with the occasional nod towards progressive death metal. The music is generally very melodic, but also fast-paced, brutal, and features heavy grooves when that is called for. I´m reminded of as different artists as Gojira, Strapping Young Lad, Necrophagist, and The Black Dahlia Murder at various points throughout the release. Ávalos is a very versatile singer, and he both screams, snarls, growls, and sings clean vocals with great skill and conviction. He even adds some Spanish language lyrics to some of the tracks. It´s not the only latin music influence on the album as the track "Profeta Paloma" features an acoustic flamenco styled section with some spoken word Spanish on top.

"Mara" not only features intriguing songwriting, and top notch musicianship, it´s also a very well produced release, featuring a powerful, clear, and detailed sounding production, which suits the material perfectly. Being familiar with "Arkanum (2016)" I´m not surprised by the high quality of "Mara" and Cult of Lilith are definitely one of the more exciting new tech/prog death artists to appear in recent years, and "Mara" is not only a highly impressive debut album, it also shows great promise for what we may have in store on future releases. A 4 star (80%) rating is fully deserved.

LOGISTIC SLAUGHTER Corrosive Ethics

Album · 2016 · Technical Death Metal
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siLLy puPPy
LOGISTIC SLAUGHTER has been around for a while having formed in 2008 in the San Francisco Bay Area city of Livermore, CA with the lineup of Jeremy Scott (vocals), Mike Flory (guitar), Kayvan Safdari (bass) and Kendric DiStefano (drums). Starting out as a brutal slam death metal band with two demos under their belt, the noisemakers from the burbs finally released their debut album CORROSIVE ETHICS which took on another form of brutality, this time the pummeling progressive time signatures run amok in the form of technical death metal without sacrificing a bit of the head smashing decibalage that came before.

As time goes on it’s utterly amazing how far the extremities of death metal can be pushed with stuff like this making old school Obituary and Bolt Thrower like grade school noise. With the frenetic dexterity of Atheist along with the in-yer-face extreme bombast of bands like Suffocation, LOGISTIC SLAUGHTER has logistically calculated how to up the ante a bit and make an album that is both brutal and technical and yet still resides within the thralls of accessibility with riffs that chug like a muthafucker at dizzying speeds but often exist at mid-tempo just to take a little breather.

The most over the top feature of CORROSIVE ETHICS is the pig squeal vocals run amok from Jeremy Scott who has mastered the art of turning those squeals into a bonafide death metal variation of vocals much like Inquisition forged a new path with those creepy croaking sounds. This album of ten tracks that just misses the 34 minute mark is chock full of tech death guitar wizardry, bantering bass abuse and explosive percussive fury like no other. This band is truly at the top of the list when it comes to excessive bombast and freakishly focused ferocity. While brutal as fuck, this band also knows how to slow things down a bit to craft some contrast lest the listener be bored.

If you can’t get enough of this brutal to the max type of death metal and Splattered, Cephalic Carnage, Cattle Decapitation, Defeated Sanity and Wormed aren’t enough for ya, well here’s another band to add to the list of extreme as fuck metal bands that deliver an uncompromising mix of technical gymnastics in full brutal death metal regalia. This band almost borders on mathcore at times but also can chug along normal riffs in old school death metal manners. This is a winner and i love it! Seasoned musicians who know how to craft clever compositions without sacrificing what makes tech and brutal death so fucking nasty sounding! The grindcore piggie vocals just make it all the better. Squeal on!

ABORTED La grande mascarade

EP · 2020 · Technical Death Metal
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UMUR
"La Grande Mascarade" is an EP release by Belgian death metal act Aborted. The EP was released through Century Media Records in April 2020. Since the release of "TerrorVision" from 2018 guitarist Mendel bij de Leij has left and "La Grande Mascarade" was therefore recorded as a quartet. The EP features three tracks. Two are new tracks and one was written and recorded during the "TerrorVision (2018)" sessions.

Although the tracks were written at two different sessions and a couple of years apart, they are all consistent in quality and style. It´s the sound of Aborted as we know them. Technically well played and brutal death metal with Sven de Caluwé´s deep growling and higher pitched aggressive snarling vocals on top. The quality is high throughout from high level musical performances, to the powerful, meaty, and detailed sound production, to the professional and effective songwriting. The tracks are all in a similar style to the sound on "TerrorVision (2018)" and those who enjoyed that album will pretty surely enjoy "La Grande Mascarade" greatly too.

Personally I found "TerrorVision (2018)" one of the more standard quality releases from Aborted. Still a high quality release, but not a release which stands out much in their by now vast discography, and the same can be said about "La Grande Mascarade". It´s a high quality release but it doesn´t add much new or interesting to Aborted´s sound. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is still deserved though.

ULCERATE Stare into Death and Be Still

Album · 2020 · Technical Death Metal
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UMUR
"Stare into Death and Be Still" is the 6th full-length studio album by New Zealand death metal act Ulcerate. The album was released through Debemur Morti Productions in April 2020. It´s the successor to "Shrines of Paralysis" from 2016 and features the exact same trio lineup who recorded the predecessor.

Two words and one influence have always been among the descriptors of Ulcerate and that´s inaccessible, dissonant, and Gorguts. While Ulcerate have managed to stay relevant and continue to release albums in the years since their inception in 2002, they haven´t strayed too far from their original formula or from their obvious Gorguts influence on any of their previous releases. What they have done though is develop their sound slowly but steadily from album to album, and adding more and more of a unique touch to their bleak and dissonant technical death metal style and that´s what has happened again on "Stare into Death and Be Still". One more step out of the shadow of Gorguts.

When that is said this is still strongly Gorguts influenced technical death metal, featuring dissonant twisted riffs and open chords, complex and challenging technical rhythm work, and some deep growling vocals, which this time around has become slightly more intelligible. I won´t remove the inaccessible label from my description of the music, but "Stare into Death and Be Still" is to date the most accessible release from Ulcerate and I hear more memorable and catchy moments here than before. The songwriting is more focused on those qualities and while this is still bleak and brutal music, it features a little less of the impenetrable darkness of some of the predecessors. It´s actually quite atmospheric at times and occasionally leans towards post-metal territory.

Ulcerate generally seem a little more interested in opening up their intriguing take on technical death metal to the listener, and it´s not done by compromising their integrity or the brutality of their music. It´s small details like a semi-melodic hook, an intelligible vocal phrase, or maybe a heavy groove, which is a bit more catchy and simple than usual. A good example is the title track, which is an incredibly creative composition, featuring many intriguing riffs and rhythms and an atmospheric middle section. But while it´s certainly a complex and challenging song, there are also some more simple features, which makes it at least occasionally accessible.

"Stare into Death and Be Still" features a crushingly brutal and heavy sound production, which is perfect for the material and helps the tracks to shine. This is an album for those who are interested in a different take on technical death metal. Forget about conventional power chord riffs, guitar solos, or regular drum patterns. When you cross the threshold and enter "Stare into Death and Be Still" you are in for an adventurous ride that´s sure to challenge the conventional ideas of what death metal should sound like. A 4 star (80%) rating is fully deserved.

ANATA Under a Stone With No Inscription

Album · 2004 · Technical Death Metal
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UMUR
"Under a Stone With No Inscription" is the 3rd full-length studio album by Swedish death metal act Anata. The album was released through Wicked World Records in January 2004. It´s the successor to "Dreams of Death and Dismay" from 2001. There´s been one lineup change since the predecessor as drummer Robert Petersson has been replaced by Conny Pettersson.

The material on "Under a Stone With No Inscription" is US influenced technical death metal. There are definitely a nod or two towards Morbid Angel here and there, although this is generally much more focused on technical playing and complex song structures than their more famous US influence. It´s quite challenging and highly energetic music, and I used to think the album featured a lot of needless technical noodling, but as I´ve given the album more spins over the years, it has won me over, and what I hear now is a lot of technical playing, but it´s technical playing which is a means to an end.

So there are a lot of strong tracks here (they take time to digest and they aren´t instantly memorable, but patience is rewarded), featuring a massive load of killer riffs, solos, and great technical drumming. The vocals are aggressive snarling growls, which suit the material perfectly, and to top it off "Under a Stone With No Inscription" also features a powerful, clear, and detailed sounding production, which further enhances the impact of the music on the listener. A 3.5 - 4 star (75%) rating is deserved.

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