Release Date: 09/22/17
You know when bands are technical for technical’s sake? Relentless Mutation is, thankfully, not that. This is absolutely top-notch Technical Death Metal – well-written, well thought-out, and features a merciful run time…. do we really need 50+ minute injections of TDM? I personally don’t think so, and very much welcome the more recent trend towards shorter albums, but I digress.
“Involuntary Doppelganger” and “Human Murmuration” have something rare in death metal and it’s many sub-genre’s: memorable vocal hooks. I kid you not. There are vocal lines that will get stuck in your head. At about 2.5 minutes in to “Human Murmuration” you’ll hear exactly what I mean. It’s a wildly enjoyable ride just considering these first two tracks – the band oscillates between incredibly technical and fast-paced passages and heavy parts featuring choppy rhythms with great guitar (and bass!) riffs all around. The drum parts too, are absolutely beastly.
Keeping with the tradition set forth above, “Remote Tumour Seeker” further proves there is not an ounce of fat left to be trimmed off this album… ’tis just another absolutely flooring work of tech death.
“Relentless Mutation” starts appropriately, with a change of pace, featuring clean guitars and a really neat bass lead, before picking up the pace a bit with a jazz-inspired guitar solo then blasting off into more familiar territory. It’s a perfect synthesis of what this album is all about. The musicianship on display is simply stunning here. There are some truly excellent production choices throughout as well. Recording quality is something I frequently make note of, and exceptional instances of engineering and production deserve to be noted as well.
“The Mimic Well” provides for just enough variety to keep the album interesting. In a sense, it’s more of the same, but like any good album that does fall solidly into genre lines, there’s just something about these mixture of songs that keeps things from getting boring or repetitive. I think this is further testament to the overall quality of the songwriting found here.
“Calamus Will Animate” starts with what has to be a direct reference to Tech N9ne’s “Stamina“. If this is a coincidence, it’s a hell of a coincidence. It may be a rhythmically complex intro, but it is identical, and is the first thing I thought of upon hearing this. This track is a bit slower paced overall. There are some rapid-fire double bass drum passages, but fewer blast beats than found elsewhere on the album. This doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of absolutely wild guitar and bass riffs. The bass parts are especially cool in this song. The more considered pace of some of the passages here allows for some breathing room via some emotive low-register guitar harmonies.
The album finishes out strong with, the again excellent, “A Dark Horizontal”. Much like a couple of the albums earlier tracks, there’s a couple vocal lines likely to get in your head, and this song features many of the elements that make this album special – the wild changes of tempo and mood, incredibly technical passages, and wonderful musicianship and performances all around.
Archspire have proven themselves to be one of the most capable and exciting death metal acts around. About as exciting as this release itself, Archspire will be partaking in an epic North America Fall 2018 tour along with Exist, Inferi, Beyond Creation, and Obscura.
Highlights: “Involuntary Doppelganger”, “Human Murmuration”, “Relentless Mutation”, “A Dark Horizontal”