- Scifi Death Metal
I had some reservations about reviewing this one, so I’m pretty late to the game. There is a striking resemblance presentation wise to Vektor‘s Terminal Redux, even down to the logo being a similar sort of future military kind of design. I feel like it’s capitalizing on the absence of a new Vektor album, which ideally we would be getting around about now. But here we are, with an album whose identity or at least originality is disputed but widely forgiven. I don’t really know how else to comment on that, just know I want to like this more but American metal across the genres has been more stale than European metal this year with a heavy focus on branding. I can understand wanting to use an Adam Burke work on their cover, that guys legit. And is largely the reason I’m listening to this. Because with that branding does come a solid if not unified presentation for consumption and collection. It’s highly listenable.
This is where I start writing, when I hear the pronounced clean bass popping through the down-tuned opening track like in an older death metal record, like Athiest‘s Unquestionable Presence. It’s a longer opener than you’d expect from death metal but perfect for scifi death, it makes me excited for the rest of what looks like a very chunky record. Again, don’t expect the prog thrash styling we all often enjoy from this genre, the emphasis here is more on the DEATH. Imagine if in Star Wars the Cantina Band got off stage and that universes equivalent of Cannibal Corpse gets on stage, that is Nucleus.
Thematically it’s more of the kind of nerdy metal shit I always enjoy, with concepts of cosmic warfare on the scale of Warhammer 40k, Halo or Mass Effect. The delivery of the lyrics often has this sensibility of being a strategic war commander in charge of a fleet of ships. The combination of crushing death metal and futuristic military strategy is as satisfying as cookies and cream. The lyrics are accessible on bandcamp and suit the music really well so check those out. Not a lot of attention paid to lyrical content from death metal fans a lot of the time. I always check the lyrics if they’re on the bandcamp page because it helps to give me a sense of an albums depth and perhaps intent.
There’s a signature sound I’m noticing through the tracks of the guitars always descending and rarely ever ascending unless it’s a solo. This is what creates the doomy vibe in the death, it’s not melody which it could easily be confused for. It’s kind of like anti-melodies. It’s something I enjoy doing on guitar a lot myself and always find it difficult to end those kind of downward melodies, these guys do a really good job handling that. I overall enjoy the audio thesis behind the sound and can appreciate what subversion there is. This isn’t prog laden or atmosphere driven scifi death, it’s far raw, darker and sludgy. It’s what I imagine is playing when descending the ancient spiral staircase in the book Annihilation, with this sense of obscene overgrowth and breeding sprawling lifeforms. It’s busy and constantly marching forward.
The highlight of the vocals for me are the parts where he goes super deep with the added reverb on the mic or in post or whatever is going on there, it’s effective at isolating the vocals over the music to draw attention to something being said. Nothing too interesting happening with them otherwise apart from the odd echo effect here and there. The vocals do tend to take a back seat during more instrumental parts but not enough to not be singing either. I do like the one purely instrumental track, the way these guys play calls to mind some of my favorite works by The Chasm. It’s a fairly typical setup for a modern death album but it delivers enough punch and stimulation to thrive in that format.
Pretty good mixing choices throughout and there’s an overall patient consistency. So at the very least, it’s a serviceable new death metal record with a great piece of artwork that will sit nicely in most metal collections. It’s not very original but it’s pretty good, there is a charm here in the instruments but also a sense of it being shackled by the template. I’ll be interested to see what the next album provides and whether there’s a significant shift musically on the next record or EP.
That is a damn fine cover art though, damn fine.