Origin is among the second wave of technical death bands, which along with other acts like Brain Drill, Viraemia, Beneath the Massacre, Viraemia, etc. chose the “fit the most guitar notes and drum hits into a single track” approach to tech-death songwriting. Chaosmos is the latest entry in the Origin discography, their eighth record in a twenty-odd year career.
Full disclosure, as much as I consume technical death metal as an obsession, the weedle-weedle approach to tech death with minutes upon minutes of mundane sweep picking over relentless blast beats is among my least favorite flavors of the genre. Sadly, Origin falls squarely into this camp, so I approached Chaosmos with cautious optimism. With the opening moments of the album opener and released single “Ecophagy” I was utterly convinced that we were in for a more traditional Origin. A moment to rejoice for those fans of the bands that hoped for Origin to continue to push out more of what they have liked on previous records.
What we get on “Ecophagy” and by extension, for the entire runtime of Chaosmos is a smattering of riffs with sweeps thrown about carelessly providing little to no return on investment. Even the drums which are usually the centerfold of any successful tech-death band (along with the obviously skilled guitar work) is serviceable but largely lackluster. For anyone who has been consuming extreme metal over the last few years, the envelope of tech-death musicianship has been pushed to such ridiculous levels, that the old guard bands like Origin seem to fall by the wayside.
There are certain highlights on the record where Origin eschews its own tropes and leans heavier on melody, which served to be the only memorable parts on the record. The outro to “Cogito, Tamen Non-Sum” did stick around as an earworm after a couple of listens, even though the rest of the song barely scratched any kind of itch. The most memorable sweep was the intro section to “Paoptical” as it actually felt handcrafted with a focus on a catchy melody (as basic as that melody was), and not a brain drill(hah)-ed run-through of a scale at absurd tempos. Origin tried it’s very best to step out of its own mold on Chaosmos with tracks like “Cullside”, which ventured into black metal territory with its minor triad tremolo-picked chord work and pterodactyl screeches, but yet again, they were outdone by a whole slew of black metal and tech death bands in their own regard, leaving a very meh product. Even the gargantuan twelve-minute album closer to “Heat Death”, with a few special moments scattered, felt like more of a slog than a magnum opus that the band probably intended.
The production on Chaosmos was passable, yet just so. The guitar tones and mix maintained clarity while still retaining some semblance of “raw” appeal. The drums also sat in the mix with a human feel, without sounding overly quantized and computerized. Yet. the snare hits and bass drum tones lacked that punch to elevate otherwise boring riffs and drumlines. The vocals were, death metal vocals, with their usual low, mid, and high range elements. Fine, but nothing we have not heard from every other band on Spotify, belying the veteran status of a band like Origin.
With bands like Archspire out there pushing tech-death to its absolute horizons, they have snatched crowns from the kings of yesteryear. Even upstart deathcore bands full of early twenty-year-olds continue to push out complex and memorable records beating out older and frankly tired-sounding bands like Origin. It is disappointing that Chaosmos is not the record that can prove to that young-uns what more mature hands and minds can craft.
Chaosmos is a hodge-podge of mediocre riffs and tired excuses of sweeps thrown in to keep up brand recognition. A pale version of the weedle-tech death that made them famous, older bands like Origin will continue to be smoked by newer, more exciting bands unless they take a step back and focus on moving their vehicle forward in a more meaningful way.