Ten From the Tomb 8/6/18: Progressive asthenospherical subduction through seismic convection via tech-death.

TEN FROM THE TOMB is a weekly feature in the form of a themed list devoted to grouping together albums of similar interest that I missed throughout the year. These albums were overlooked for review for any number of reasons with the most common reason being constraints of time. I have a policy of covering 99% of everything I receive in some form, be it mini-review or full-feature, so don’t hesitate to send anything and everything my way.

Here I present a ten album sampler of some technical/progressive death metal releases I’ve so far overlooked this year. Consider it a soundtrack to your week spent avoiding eye contact with co-workers so that they can’t keep asking you if you’ve seen the latest Ant-Man movie, because you said you would but there’s no way in hell you’re going to ever see it. Most of these albums made it here to Ten From the Tomb because I couldn’t manage the time for a long-form review or because I really didn’t have more than a paragraph or two’s worth of insight beyond banal description. If you don’t like tech-death or progressive death metal, relax! This’ll be back every seven days with 10 more albums from different styles, genres, themes, etc.

Hey! Don’t dive in thinking this will all be sweep picking, machine riffing, and chugged-up prog-metal riffs stunting as death metal. This time I looked for technically sound releases that do something a bit different, be it gimmick or high concept. The inspiration came from the semi-weekly poll I hold with Patrons where they pick between genre and I dig through hundreds of not-yet-reviewed releases looking for theme and interest. This isn’t so much a collection of dregs and flops but rather a selection meant to convey diversity within underground technical metal’s sphere of influence, but keep in mind some will be progressive and not necessarily ‘tech’. Think my opinions are trash and that I suck? Want to totally tell me off, bro? Click away and let’s all live more sensible lives full of meaningful interactions. I’m too old and bored with people to care. NOTE: This is going up early because I’ll be out of town this Friday (8/10/18)


Artist Apocrophex
Title [Type/Year] Æternalis [Full-length/2018]
Rating [3.25/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Back in 2015 Apocrophex‘ debut album ‘Suspended From the Cosmic Altaar’ was a nice surprise that I stumbled upon solely because the album art looked like an early 90’s science fiction book jacket. Though their follow-up is moderately progressive in it’s experimentation away from the more brutality driven leanings of their debut the overall experience is equal in value. That is to say that I really liked ‘Suspended From the Cosmic Altaar’ and feel the same for ‘Æternalis’. Each album has some small issue with drum production being just slightly flat but I understand that is standard brutal/tech sound and ultimately an honest representation of how bands like this sound live. Increased bass presence, atmospheric riffs, and a certain modern jazzy mystery drives some quality songs to new heights (“Thwarting Dogma”, “Sovereign Symbol”) while others tread water (“The Oracle Room”) and this sums up the experience as a whole. I love what Apocrophex represent as death metal unafraid to experiment without losing sight of their heaviness but some of the full-on dissonant/Cynic-esque parts begin to inch into alt-metal territory. I suppose it is a hint of Rivers of Nihil, or similar style, showing the way forward but I think their brutal spaced-out stuff is generally more effective.


Artist Widow’s Peak
Title [Type/Year] Graceless [EP/2018]
 Rating [2.5/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Canadian brutal tech-death from a young band that offer sharp execution and fairly standard songwriting. Most of the technicality comes in the form of rhythmic play you’ve heard before but they toss in pig squeals and sweep picking like they did back in the day. I mean I’m not impressed by the EP at all but it’s nothing to bag on or scoff at. These guys can play and their influences are well represented. I would have liked to hear the bass performance brought forward as it leaned back and only added to the mush of the guitar tone. If you’re way into modern day Cannibal Corpse records, old Dying Fetus and Aborted you’ll be in hog heaven here. I’ve kinda heard this done a million times, I mean this is everything brutal death was doing in 2007 once they’d dropped the ‘St. Anger’ snare sound, and not much more… plus I couldn’t help but think bands like Eye of the Destroyer do this type of stuff and have more fun with it.


Artist Parius
Title [Type/Year] Tales From the Eldritch Realm [Full-length/2018]
 Rating [3.0/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Another project full of young folks already kicking around some intense progressive intentions that help differentiate their sound. The ‘bones’ of Parius music are rooted in modern technical melodic death metal that is really just souped-up The Black Dahlia Murder (or Mors Principium Est) at it’s core. On this second full-length they’ve incorporated influences from modern progressive metal to shakes things up and this takes place of the keyboard heavy experimentation of ‘Let There Be Light’ (2017). It works. They toy with some ‘Traced in Air’ style along the way and the Lovecraft theme is a welcome change that brings an arcing theme to carry through their newly refined sound. Although I liked this album I couldn’t help but feel like “Eldritch” represented the first and best idea they had for the record and the rest of it couldn’t really keep up outside of “The Binding.”


Artist Unflesh
Title [Type/Year] Savior [Full-length/2018]
 Rating [3.25/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Speaking of technical melodic death metal New Hampshire based project Unflesh‘s debut brings that style to the icy realm of melodic black metal showcasing an interesting mix of classic black metal tones performed using techniques common in the tech-melodeath. Unflesh founder and Berklee student Ryan Beevers showed high capability on his debut EP alongside session drummer Hannes Grossman (Alkaloid, Lelahell, Hate Eternal) but with a full band rounded out by members of Seven Spires and Pathogenic  he gains some of the necessary rough edge to avoid sterility common to modern tech-death releases. The trouble I had with this release was that for every Dissection or Arsis inspired moment an odd reliance on Revocation tonality left the grandeur wanting. The solo work on tracks like “Final Writhe” really didn’t fit and felt like an odd ‘rock shredding’ moment that misses the atmosphere of melodic black/death they appeared to be going for on ‘Savior’. I understand this is made without the sort of old school ethos that I look for so I’m not really highly critical of the sound or approach, but I think the project needs another release to work on the flow of ideas and overall composition. It is a beautiful, ice cold melodic extreme metal album wrapped up in tech death’s anxious performative tendencies and isn’t given a fair chance to breathe.


Artist CodeRed
Title [Type/Year] Dominions of Our Deceitful Beliefs [Remaster/2018]
 Rating [3.0/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Romanian old school technical death metal band CodeRed self-released this album back in 2013 and it has now been remastered and reissued by their label to show the true potential of their Immolation and Morbid Angel influenced style. The album features current Disavowed and Pestilence drummer Septimiu Hărşan (ex-Spectral, ex-Autokrator) who along with the rest of the members were involved with black/death metal band Indian Fall. Perhaps most recognizable to me is the voice of Andrei Calmuc who provided vocals for the latest Spectral album. I’ve enjoyed this album quite a bit but I’ve found I have very little to say about it, it isn’t as technical or ‘modern’ as most of the other things on this list but it fits in well enough. The guitar work seems fairly simply arranged at first but they develop a style not far from Hate Eternal but provide more variety generally speaking. I would highly recommend this album’s remaster to folks who sort of ‘grew up’ on the death metal of the early 2000’s.


Artist Obscura
Title [Type/Year] Diluvium [Full-length/2018]
 Rating [3.75/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

If nothing else Steffen Kummerer has long been a visionary operating in good taste between his two main groups Thulcandra and Obscura. What greater pair of apex in extreme metal to pursue than melodic black metal and technical/progressive death metal? Well, I could think of a few but he has surrounded himself with a revolving door of impressive musicians since 2002 and Obscura have been widely revered since their debut ‘Retribution’ (2006). On thier fifth full-length they complete a ‘quadrilogy’ that started with breakthrough album ‘Cosmogenesis’ (2009). This is essentially the tech-death band the masses raced towards as Necrophagist and Spawn of Possession began to dissolve. ‘Diluvium’ is a progressive death metal record first and foremost that pays greater dues to Cynic‘s ‘Focus’ than anything they’d done previous. It is gloriously listenable and has all of the pomp and retro-futurism of a Devin Townsend record. Therein lies the problem for me as wandering progressive structures and impressive technique fully outweigh songwriting showcases. I am a huge fan of ‘Cosmogenesis’ and as a result I’m far more aligned with what Obscura were doing on ‘Akróasis’. That said it is the best sounding technical death metal record of the year so far just in terms of big-budget glossiness and that vocoder works in it’s favor despite not really exploring the range of the effect much. Too soulless for my taste but undeniably high quality execution.


Artist Bookakee
Title [Type/Year] Ignominies [Full-length/2018]
 Rating [2.75/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Can I really say I’m open-minded towards all artistic visions if I couldn’t bring myself to crack into Bookakee‘s mildly symphonic progressive/technical slam death metal opus ‘Ignominies’ for months based on their name? No, but I do my best. This isn’t just a freakish stumble upon cliche, though, it is as developed and intricate as any modern technical death metal album out today. It just happens to have burp-squeals, inglorious breakdowns, and a heavy dose of chest-shitting, cum-vomiting slam. I mean, look up a photo of these beefy Montréal dudes and they all look like Jason Vorhees splattered with glow in the dark jizz; I can only hope a live show would be as much fun as they look. But seriously this album is deceptively tongue-in-cheek and though you might not like some of the genres they fuck around with there is a lot going on throughout the full 50 minutes of ‘Ignominies’ and it all becomes pretty convincing as it played out. The vocals are like an unfamiliar cock in the eye once in a while but overall I found I could hang with this album for a few listens and have a good time. You won’t find a better prog-slam Super Mario World intro theme cover all year.


Artist Dischordia
Title [Type/Year] Binge/Purge [EP/2018]
 Rating [2.5/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Despite being familiar with Dischordia since 2013 I haven’t followed their discography since ‘Project 19’ because that first album sucked. But hey any tech-deathcore band willing to embarrass themselves covering a Tom Waits song is totally worthy of a second chance and ‘Binge/Purge’ is alright for what it is. Again I try to be open-minded but I don’t generally enjoy deathcore the same way I don’t like melodic metalcore, most 90’s groove metal, or djent. It isn’t the modernity of the style but rather the overall effect of the music which is lacking. Dischordia play with deathcore sounds but offer something dissonant as they make moves to combine their larger influences into their own sound that escapes the skronk-core boy band spectrum. To be fair they were never ‘there’ and now they’ve simply focused and sharpened their mathcore discord and dissonance in line with modern extreme metal. Love the album art and their sound, curious to see where they go next, but don’t yet find myself warming up to their music.


Artist Mordant Rapture
Title [Type/Year] The Abnegation [EP/2018]
 Rating [2.75/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

I’m all on board for most any The Artisan Era release since that last Inanimate Existence album but I think Mordant Rapture‘s debut EP has been the most challenging yet as I’m not entirely sure what to make of it. There is an ever present cloud of atmospherically layered symphonic black metal atop nigh constant shredding technical melodic death metal on ‘The Abnegation’ and it all reads a bit strange. The effect is more in line with melodic black/death metal hybrids of the symphonic black metal era like Thromdarr or Keep of Kalessin. The sound and style is intense but I feel like the only interesting place they could really end up going with it is some sort of tech-death Dimmu Borgir, and it kinda does go there (“Quell the Voiceless”). I really appreciated how outlandish this was despite how often it didn’t work. Using a well-juiced sound and hammering it with technical death metal intensity creates a bit of chaos but I have no doubt the forgettable songwriting will work itself out over time.


Artist Order Ov Riven Cathedrals
Title [Type/Year] Göbekli Tepe [Full-length/2018]
 Rating [3.0/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Italian symphonic technical death metal duo Order Ov Riven Cathedrals offer a further extreme take on the work of Fleshgod Apocalypse, Behemoth, Hour of Penance and Whorion on their second full-length. Consider a symphonic black metal album playing in unison with a tech-death band with an opera at their disposal. The sound is a grand mush of semi-fluid noise that becomes a claustrophobia inducing series of acrobatic death metal songs fixed into place by experimental keyboard and chorale that invokes the late 90’s more than anything else. As extreme as this might seem to combine the bombast of symphonic black metal keyboards with blistering brutal death metal, it isn’t necessarily an original concept as the guitar work borrows from the Nile school of riffs and the keyboard work seems to directly channel the work of Fleshgod Apocalypse. I’m not too hung up on the things I’m picking at because ‘Göbekli Tepe’ nonetheless is a work of great detail and conception, I think the lyrics are almost more exciting to dig through than much of the instrumentation.

Did I miss your favorite 2018 technical/progressive death metal album? I’d like to know if there are any 2018 releases you loved but didn’t get enough recognition. Drop me a line to tell me! It is always worthwhile to speak up for the lesser known stuff. Please remember you can contribute to my Patreon @ only $1 USD per month ($12 a year) to help keep me in front of the computer writing about metal. Thanks.

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