So… technical death metal. Much to the reader’s probabile dismay, I don’t really know enough about this genre to be able to talk about in great detail. Aside from the bands that anyone who has even the vaguest idea of what tech-death is knows (Cynic, Atheist, Necrophagist), I couldn’t name any other major players within the genre (except from Obscura and, well, that’s about it). And it’s not like I don’t listen to any other bands besides the ones I mentioned, but I end up forgetting about most of them, partly due to the genre’s focus on insanely complex guitar techniques not being exactly what I look for in music, but also the fact that most tech-death bands are simply just forgettable. It simply takes more than over-the-top guitar antics to make a song or melody memorable. I don’t mean to condemn tech-death for being what it is, I’m just trying to provide some context for my relationship with the genre. So where does Archspire fit into all of this?
Well, if you’ve read the title of this article, you’ve probably guessed that my overall opinion on this record is a positive one. Congratulations, you’re right! I do think positively of this album. Very positively in fact. This is not only because the musicianship on Relentless Mutation some of the most technically proficient I’ve ever heard, but also because of how tight the songwriting is. There is not second on this album that I feel was wasted, not one beat that I feel wasn’t in the right place. Deciding on a favorite song is not just hard, it’s pointless; every one of them is excellent and every one of them has at least one jaw-droppingly awesome riff, and I will always favor music that has awesome riffs. At 30 minutes in length, this album neither leaves you wanting more, not does overstay its welcome. As such, it doesn’t have the time to either get stale, repetitive or boring, as I think a lot of longer tech-death releases tend to do, and all of the musical ideas it bring forth stay fresh and exciting.
That brings me to my one and only complaint with Relentless Mutation. While it is as close to a perfect tech-death album as it can be, even someone who isn’t that experienced with the genre can tell that it doesn’t do anything groundbreaking. The classic guitar passages, which are an element one might be surprised to learn that this album has, have been done before in a lost of other places, but, on an album as otherwise brutal as this one, they nevertheless provide a nice breath of fresh air and a welcome moment of rest before things get heavy again.
If you’re in any way a fan of tech-death, death metal or even metal in general, you owe it to yourself to give Relentless Mutation at least one listen If you’re not, then you can try to listen to some of the other bands I listed before this (start with Cynic, please), but remember to come back to this.
You can listen to this absolute monster of an album here.