REVIEW: ARCHSPIRE – “Relentless Mutation”
For being one of the nicest countries in the world, Canada puts out some flat-out nasty metal. In case you’ve been living under a rock all this time, old-school technical death metal legends Cryptopsy and Gorguts both hail from the great white north. Now, we see the second generation of cutting edge tech-death, lead by the speed demons Archspire.
In recent years, my beloved niche little genre has become flooded with bands trying to play as many notes as they can in as little time as possible. By and large it has been hit and miss at best. Some of these new bands have taken the modern death metal sound and turbocharged it, pushing the boundaries of over the top technicality even further. Archspire is a fantastic example of this new sound. Unbelievably fast and mind-numbingly technical on all fronts and now on their third record, there seems to be no slowing these guys down.
‘Relentless Mutation’ is a crushing album that far surpassed any preconceptions I had for the album. The production is ironclad and crispy, leaving no room for any error. The guitars sound fat and the notes are easily distinguishable while the drums sit comfortably in the back where they’re clear but not overwhelming, which could be easy to do with how intense the drumming actually is.
“Involuntary Doppleganger” kicks off the album with a wicked fast yet fairly catchy riff and some crazy fast drumming. Listening to Archspire is a lot like drinking from a firehose. It’s a lot of material flying at your face at an alarming rate, yet within all that chaos is an incredible attention to detail. “Remote Tumor Seeker” has what I would say is the most memorable riff off the album. It was stuck in my head for a few days after first hearing it. The vocals flow right along with the rhythm of the riff and you’ll likely find yourself nodding along without even noticing you started. Oliver Rae Aleron has one of the most unique vocal delivery styles in the business. When I first started listening to Archspire I wasn’t initially sold on the shotgun style vocals, but they definitely grew on me. In a way they could be the next level of vocal styles in the way that they sound incredibly difficult to pull off. I can’t think of many vocalists that can scream that many words, at that pace, with that level of clarity. The pig squeals were a great surprise on ‘Relentless Mutation’.
You can’t talk about Archspire without mentioning Spencer Prewett on drums. Without a doubt, some of the fastest drumming I’ve heard in a long time. I absolutely love the machine gun fast blasts and quick fills. Jared Smith has the tough job of taking up where Jaron Evil left off on bass, where he set an incredibly high bar. With fills and solo moments throughout the album, Smith certainly pulls his weight.
Personally, I’ve always thought that Dean Lamb playing an eight string while Tobi Morelli plays a seven to be a bit odd, but considering the caliber of work they’re putting out, obviously they’re meshing just fine, so I won’t complain. The ridiculously intricate riff work is absolutely mind-blowing.
All in all, ‘Relentless Mutation’ is one of the best tech-death albums of the year. Everything is crisp and clean while being brutal and catchy. The level of musicianship on this album is absolutely impeccable and it serves to raise the bar for musicians everywhere. For fans of bands like Soreption, Spawn of Possession, and Necrophagist, Archspire serves to satiate all techy cravings.