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Archspire - Relentless Mutation Award winner

Relentless Mutation
by Daniel Fox at 30 September 2017, 11:25 PM

It seems as if that, from the get-go, ARCHSPIRE set out to create records with the sole purpose of enticing a certain train of thought in the listener's mind:

"What the f***?"

Hailing from Vancouver, Canada, the band formed under the name DEFENESTRATED in 2007 and would come to be the name whom tech-death fans know and love, ARCHSPIRE, in 2009. Although their first release, "All Shall Align", was released in 2011, their signing with Season Of Mist in 2013 and release of "The Lucid Collective" in 2014, arguably, thrust them into wide exposure in the tech-death scene.


We would indeed be treated to a third album, titled "Relentless Mutation", which dropped in September, and it did so with force to crack planets, with a precision and clean sound not often heard at such a caliber. I would strongly contend that the followup to "The Lucid Collective" is a clear improvement, here. The band have every right to be proud of an album where the instruments are played at such a ludicrously high tempo, yet still cut through the mix, each as an individual beast.

As many would attest, the drumming from the maestro Spencer Prewett is a main attraction of an ARCHSPIRE album, and the opening track, "Involuntary Doppelgänger", does every  bit to remind us of that, introducing the album with an interweaving of gravity and blast beats. How Oli is able to keep up with him with his percussive, lightning-fast yet enunciated growls is one of life's mysteries.

The guitars and bass present in this album, however, are nothing to scoff at - "Human Murmuration" is, in fact, a testament to the virtuosity of everyone in this band, displaying a truly impressive composition. The song shifts between atmospheric wonderlust and claustrophobic heaviness, between inhuman shred and a lofty, almost calm, reprieve and the versatility of the stringsmen are the driving force between these masterful transitions.

My personal favourite on the album might be "Remote Tumour Seeker". It opens with opens with a strong, precise and insurmountably heavy cadence of riffs, and an emotive vocal delivery by Oli, before delving into trademark ARCHSPIRE passages of 9001 BPM, blastbeat-driven riffs. I say trademark, because it is an excellent example of how, if you were to listen to passages individually, with purpose, you would pick up on subtle-but-impressive nuances that you might miss on an album spin. However, when found, a light switches on in your brain, and you fall even further in love with their music.

The title track initially lends itself to be the album's most subdued piece overall, introducing itself with an almost serene majesty before launching into a speed demon. When the song launches into its vocal passages, it is composed in a way to evoke more majesty, though not for the sake of awe, but to gaze upon in fear and foreboding. More clear passages offer a reprieve, and might be the song best enjoyed on its own with no outside distractions.

"The Mimic Well" is a wall of syncopated and extremely heavy riffing, with the bass guitar as the leading, monomolecular edge in the majority of the riffing, attesting to the statement about the masterful production on this album. The riffs on this song are constructed in a way to evoke severe whiplash when they dip in and out, like the rise and fall of a sledgehammer, a downward direction of force that you are barely expecting, but end up relishing.

"Calamus Will Animate" begins with a clever vocal passage over what sounds like an industrial drum machine, evoking machine-gun fire. However, it is perhaps one of the more subdued songs on the album overall, punctured by guitars that are sometimes atmospheric in their delivery coating the instrumentation in a cloud of darkness. During the verses of this song, they do so in stark contrast to a yet another inhumanly fast drum delivery by Spencer, offering an addictive juxtaposition.

"A Dark Horizontal" closes the album out as the 7th track, and you might think it is the album's closest offering to meat-and-potatoes Death Metal. The opening guitar riff is one of my favourite moments on the album and is extremely memorable, a riff that you wish would repeat itself once or twice before the song closes. The song is punctuated by subdued and minimalist clean sections, before being kicked up the arse by riffs that transition between furious shredding and atmospheric chords showing, in the moment, even the slightest hints of Black Metal.

It's not often I am so entranced by an album enough to dive into each and every track; I suppose it is fitting to admit that "Relentless Mutation" is a vice for the mind and soul and is one of the best releases to come out of this year.

Songwriting: 10
Originality: 10
Memorability: 9
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

1. Involuntary Doppelgänger
2. Human Murmuration
3. Remote Tumour Seeker
4. Relentless Mutation
5. The Mimic Well
6. Calamus Will Animate
7. A Dark Horizontal
Oliver Rae Aleron - Vocals
Dean Lamb - 8 String Guitar
Tobi Morelli - 7 String Guitar
Jared Smith - Bassist
Spencer Prewett - Drums
Record Label: Season Of Mist


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Edited 06 October 2022

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