A bit of history to this Canadian band who were originally called Defenestration before changing to Archspire, they have two albums and an EP out previously all of which I have purposely not listened to prior to reviewing this third album. This plainly because the band is totally new to me and I wanted to hear the band as they are now, though I have subsequently checked out their other releases but made no reference to them in this review.
When I read the promotional information to this release it was full of the usual superlatives trying to sell their band and more often than not it is usually just waffling hyperbole. However in the case of Archspire it is correct and maybe they even undersold the band as nothing prepares you for the hyper velocity technical death metal explosion on “Relentless Mutation” both instrumentally and vocally. The artwork for the cover is excellent, eye-catching as I have sat looking at its intricacies and details a number of times.
“Relentless Mutation” is staggering for the 1837 seconds duration it plays on my computer as the album starts with “Involuntary Doppelgänger” with a duelling riff detonation right and left before an incendiary of snare blast carpet bombing the song. A lot of warp speed technical metal bores me rigid but Archspire have written songs that are actually songs with a memorable factor as the opener drops the speed off a cliff for some sublime bass work a facet of this album that is truly spectacular throughout. As the album gets warmed up “Human Murmuration” has a sci-fi like charisma to begin with as the first of the high velocity vocal deliveries are heard blending with the guitar work which threads around the bass and drums the latter of which are insanely intense.
“Remote Tumour Seeker” is a beast of a song, beginning again with a sci-fi like atmosphere the song has a steady beat, but with copious fills which eventually lead into gravity blasted sections. The riff breaks are supremely catchy and it is this song writing methodology that makes Archspire’s songs memorable as this tune has yet another trick hiding up its sleeve by incorporating what I felt was neoclassical fusion leads which I thought were very cool. Calming things momentarily is the title track with gentle bass and cymbal that lead into a tornado of riffs and drumming, I cannot overstate how intense the playing on this album is yet how highly accessible it is too. Parts of the title track had me scribbling down another band aside of the usual ones like Obscura, Beyond Creation etc, as US tech metallers Allegaeon came to mind here too. “The Mimic Well” is a blaze of technical extremity initially before tempering the song with a catchy riff as the song ebbs and flows in speed via the drums as the riffs, and especially the bass playing, embellish the song with a bewildering array of sonic adornments.
The albums closing piece is “A Dark Horizontal” a longer song that initially blasts out of the speakers before unveiling a sci-fi sequence that sends the song into a flurry of lead break. The snare speed is demented here as the track swerves from one riff to another like a skilled driver maintaining a high fluidity that is utterly absorbing. About half way and the song abruptly changes to a very sublime section that is genteel and almost out of sync with the song before it returns to outright bedlam. It is impossible to hear everything this album has to offer after ten listens it is a profusion of instrumentation, the playing is astounding, the song writing is magnificent but overall Archspire have recorded a technical death metal album that has songs and not an album that has four of five musicians just showing off for the sake of it and it is probably the best technical death metal album I’ve heard this decade. I’d give this album a 10 but I think the band is only just getting started.
(9/10 Martin Harris)