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The Design Abstract - Transhuman Ascendant Award winner

The Design Abstract
Transhuman Ascendant
by Kevin Lewis at 05 March 2023, 9:28 AM

THE DESIGN ABSTRACT is a Canadian band formed in 2011, though they were known as only DESIGN from 2011-2016. Since 2017, they have released four full-length LPs and two EPs. A combination of Symphonic and Melodic Death Metal, they focus on Science Fiction themes lyrically and technically precise, grand soundscapes musically. Their fourth LP, Transhuman Ascendant, released February 21, 2023, on Sliptrick Records. The album opens with “Secrets Uncovered,” a fast-paced track with a heavy guitar riff and a lighter keyboard/piano scheme. The drums are blast beats with magnificent pattern shifts. With only two members and neither listed as playing drums, it is unclear if the drums are recorded by a guest/session musician or programmed. Either way, they are very well done. At only two and a half minutes, the song is fast and has a lot of power to it. The vocals switch between harsh and clean.

In “Degradation Of The Sacrosanct,” the opening line talks about mechanical blasphemy, showing a bit of distrust in the design of new technology, hinting it could be less than benign in its very existence. Again, the tempo is incredibly fast. The guitar work is excellent, keeping pace with the rhythm section while throwing in some well-placed leads to add extra emphasis to some of the riff work. “Synthetic Morality” eases in some great Symphonic tones along with Electronic/Industrial influences brought into display a more unnatural, manufactured feel to the composition. The various instruments are layered in very nicely, creating a massive soundscape that envelops the listener, and as an instrumental, it transitions to “Plaguebringers” beautifully. That transition is solid with no time to really prepare for the jolt, accentuating the shift nicely.

Some of the better, sweeping Symphonic glory of their writing is experienced in “Manufactured Obsolescence.” At two minutes, it’s another short instrumental, but it packs a pretty good punch with the swells and ebbs of the music, creating both minimalism and grandeur in a very short time. The album concludes with a two-part piece on the worship of technology as the primary deity. This is when technology takes over and rules with humans losing the ability to control it or fight against it. Part one, “Singularity Absolute,” is guitar heavy, but has some nice, ethereal keyboard tones woven into the track, while ”Salvation” is a final instrumental piece that features piano and strings only. It is a very subdued song that finished the album off with somber, melancholy feelings. It feels like the technology won and humans are now inferior beings.

THE DESIGN ANSTRACT has created a dystopian future where fighting the machine is critical to survival. You can see indicators of this in the world today without looking very far. You are probably reading this on a tech device, might even have the device reading it for you. Can you unplug? Are you able to survive without the machines anymore? Maybe you’ve already lost. Interesting thought isn’t in?

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 8
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. Secrets Uncovered
2. Degradation Of The Sacrosanct
3. Exile
4. Synthetic Morality
5. Plaguebringers
6. The Seer
7. Unleashed
8. Manufactured Omniscience
9. Agents Of Retribution
10. Pathways
11. Technotheism I: Singularity Absolute
12. Technotheism II: Salvation
Voiicide – Bass/Vocals
Logan Mayhem – Guitar
Record Label: Sliptrick Records


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