SOREPTION – Jord (2022)REVIEW

From generalist journeymen to a persistent, well-oiled machine minded crew in a matter of years there’ll be no reason not to hand it to Swedish technical death metal trio Soreption in terms of the professional tenacity they’ve employed in positioning themselves as one of the more known groups in their niche and despite the intensely overcrowded realm they’d represent. It’ll be that hunger for a current “relevant” sound that’ll ultimately make their fourth full-length a standout for general audiences at face value yet it may very well be the album that finally reinforces, or, decides upon their signature form of groove-obsessed modern tech-death. Though I don’t feel they’ve had their masterpiece moment so much as their idealized sound with ‘Jord‘ the album inarguably represents a strong willed, adaptable group willing to bend and flex in pursuit of highly competitive sport.

Soreption formed circa 2005 between Sundsvall-area musicians developing a death metal sound, specifically between guitarist Anton Svendin and drummer Tony Westermark whom rounded out the line-up with vocalist Fredrik Söderberg of lesser-known hardcore/mathcore band Dysdain and bassist Rikard Persson joining soon after. With a goal of just making death metal and focusing on their largely modern influences the debut EP (‘Illuminate the Excessive‘, 2007) from the quartet was, like most tech-death acts in Europe at the time, largely influenced by the bigger waves of brutality and technicality coming out of North America at the time though they’ve specifically noted Cryptopsy, Origin, and even Cannibal Corpse as informing this band’s approach to start. Folks picked up on the band’s approach for the sake of a sound that was adjacent to Decapitated‘s groove metal influenced post-‘Organic Hallucinosis‘ sphere at the time as modern groove metal influenced rhythms became a key element of Soreption‘s sound going forward. Fast forward a few years and I guess what I remember most about their debut full-length on Unique LeaderDeterioration of Minds‘ (2010) was the very ‘of the era’ drum production which signaled the ear toward technical death metal at the time. As technical death metal got bigger and deathcore threatened to wipe ’em all out bands like Soreption had no trouble holding fast to not only their sound but expanding their audience for the sake of their focus always being upon entertaining grooves rather than the ‘for musicians only’ sort of stuff one-uppsmanship you’d expect from technique obsessed crowds. At that point I wasn’t a fan, finding the band fine musicians but deploying a generic, more or less straight forward sound at the time.

Engineering the Void‘ (2014) was Soreption‘s quasi breakout moment in terms of making good on an industry standardized abrasive and anxietous modern death metal sound with plenty of finesse in its rhythmic meter and lead guitar techniques worthy of catching in a live setting. You couldn’t find a review at the time that wasn’t praising their handle of rhythm (and mentioning Decapitated) yet the footnotes were that the group were still far from original in any sense, garnering notice for their apex sound and very consistent touring presence which’d only amped up with their stab at an even more accessible, polished sound on their Sumerian Records released third album ‘Monument of the End‘ (2018). That third album must’ve been a stab at something a bit more mainstream, depending on your perspective, having featured more readable vocal arrangements, big choruses, and flashier hits of guitar tech for the sake of spectacle. Nothing I’d had any particular interest in but, eh, that year I’d been gifted tickets to Summer Slaughter and the only band on that bill that’d been halfway decent for my taste was Soreption, providing some perspective on what sort of mainstream chunder they could hang with and also that they were skilled and entertaining in motion. For this fourth album they’re back on Unique Leader and pressing on beyond the somewhat dull sheen of the previous album, providing a more lively and updated sound that is more distinctly tech-death in nature with ‘Jord‘.

Louder, sharper, even more thug-groovin’ and aiming for the standard of the biggest modern technical death metal acts of today, particularly Archspire, we find a meaner and tightest yet sync’d version of Soreption on ‘Jord‘ an album which emphasizes their rhythm section’s intense virtuosic touch while Söderberg basically ups his game, presence and oeuvre for the first time since 2014 or so. The production values here are enormous but not impersonal with some special care taken in tuning the snare into the middle of the mix and allowing the tweaked and processed bass guitar tone to feature with some considerable strength for the length of the full listen without swallowing the somewhat average guitar arrangements throughout. In fact it surprises me that this album ‘works’ in the way that it does since it doesn’t appear they’d had a guitarist in the fold when it was written. Original guitarist Svendin left in 2016 and their bassist at the time became their guitarist for their next album, that fellow had left before this one just as their original bassist rejoined and… Well, you get the idea.

As far as I know most of the rhythm guitar performances were handled by Ian Waye (Thanopraxia) whom also provides guest lead guitar spots alongside members of Dråp, Abiotic, Inferi, Psycroptic and Archspire. This might have tech-metal guitarist wannabes hyped over making cover videos on YouTube but as a listener and a fan of death metal it perhaps speaks to Soreption adapting, banking on their knack for signature rhythms developed while the guitar performances are yet hardly stylized in terms of performance compared to the upper echelon of nowadays tech-death bands they enjoy company with. You won’t likely pick this album up for the riffs so much as the leads, the bones of the rhythms being juiced, and the pulverization it all provides within a satisfying half hour rush. Opener “The Artificial North” sells this sound and approach up front with a choppin’ and staccato voiced burst of speed up front for a fine entrance, the veritably spat vocal lines of each verse no longer aiming for pure readability so much as the spectacle of speed and synchronization, which to me reads as a bit of a deathcore-adjacent phrasing tightened up into succinct and brutal statement. Pairing that first song with the first single (and album closer) “Död Jord” you’d naturally get the impression that this album is just wall-to-wall congestion and tech-noodled guitar solos (these leads courtesy of Archspire‘s guitarists, even) but these two songs aren’t entirely representative of how ‘Jord‘ works out in the long run.

One of the most interesting parts of ‘Engineering the Void‘ back in the day was its use of keyboards as respite from the tension of each song, breaking into what was usually under a minute of some manner of instrumental rest that’d make already fairly involved songs appear just a bit more impressive than they’d have been otherwise. This returns on ‘Jord‘ with performances from The Dark Alamorté contributor James Carey providing what are essentially keyboard breaks in the majority of the pieces beyond the opening and closing numbers, starting with a brief run on a section of “The Forever Born”. This doesn’t necessarily find us landing in the maximal progressive territory of the more expressive groups on The Artisan Era roster but there are a few moments which are unexpected and actually really well set, “Prophet” in particular presents a run which feels as if it were pulled right from a late 90’s symphonic black metal group rather than a prog-deathcore group where you’d normally find this sort of extra-level treatment. The keyboard parts begin to ramp up on the first half of the album but only to the point that they end up becoming an expected part of each song going forward, often leaving as much or more of a mark than the lead guitar guests whom feature on several pieces.

As we move towards Side B the use of keyboards begin to feature as more than accoutrement (“A Story Never Told”) but perhaps only for the sake of distracting from the general lack of rhythm guitar interest developing over the course of several songs as Soreption are light on new tricks to jet out by the time “The Chasm” begins resorting to scale ripping riffs and increasingly stale vocal arrangements. The energy is up at a serious constant throughout the length of ‘Jord‘ but they’ve not necessarily done enough with it that I’d necessarily begin seeing these folks as supreme elite tech death just yet. As rousing as my personal favorite piece “The Nether Realm’s Machinery” is I’d have to admit they’ve worn out each of the major elements of the piece (keyboard feature, guitar trickery, machine gunned grooves, shred, etc.) well before it lands, and this doesn’t bode well for an album which relies upon flash and bumpin’ grooves to entertain. If they’d not kept this record at an exact half hour I’d have ducked out before it finished.

Soreption‘s fourth album ultimately takes me right back to where I was at peak technical death metal fandom back in the late 2000’s, everything about ‘Jord‘ is aesthetically strong and they’ve packed each moment with technique and strong features enough to keep me highly entertained yet I’ve been graced with no certain substantive statement, no masterful songcraft or anything spiritually redeeming enough to pick ’em out of the crowd and tout as well and truly significant. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, this is one of the better tech-death machines out there especially considering they don’t have a dedicated guitar seat, but I’ve no real reason to remember and cherish this one beyond its brilliant sound design and talented performers. I want more, but that wouldn’t stop me from recommending this as one of the more instantly appealing tech death nukes we’ve been hit with so far this year. A moderately high recommendation.

Moderately high recommendation. (75/100)

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.
Info:
ARTIST:SOREPTION
TITLE:Jord
LABEL(S):Unique Leader
RELEASE DATE:June 10th, 2022

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