Written by Westin
Maze of Sothoth – Extirpated Light
> Technical death metal
> Releasing March 24
> Everlasting Spew Records
In my apparent quest to review music from across the broad spectrum of metal, I have yet to touch technical death metal – I am very picky about tech death. Don’t mistake that for refined taste since I’m an unapologetic fan of Brain Drill, I am simply particular. Maze of Sothoth have piqued my interest with their musical mastery and approach to the genre, and they should now have your interest.
Maze of Sothoth was founded in Italy in 2009 by guitarist Fabio Marasco, and was not particularly active until the release of their debut album Soul Demise in 2017, after which another long gap of six years brings us to Extirpated Light. Both albums feature the same lineup that has been stable since 2012 with second guitarist Riccardo Rubini, drummer Matteo, and bassist/vocalist Cristiano Marchesi. Their relative lack of musical output does not betray them, as the band sound tightknit and well suited to the task.
The album rips straight out of the gate, no interludes or atmospheric buildup, just delivering an immediate pummeling in opener “The Unspeakable” before ripping off a well-placed solo near the track’s close, followed by a brief Cannibal Corpse-esque solo bass riff, and ending. The song is barely three minutes in length, and with the entire album clocking at just over 36 minutes across 9 songs, it’s a great representation of what’s to come.
The following track “Eliminate Contamination” similarly kicks off with no pause, features an even better solo, and has some nice little chugs and elements that remind me of Deicide, not least of which is Cristiano’s vocal tone. There’s a clear love of old school death metal here, where the beginnings of tech death were emerging without becoming the over-the-top style that is associated with modern tech bands. Many of these songs sound like they exist in that space between the original death metal scene and the modern technical death metal scene.
You can see this when the band decides to show off some variety, like on track “Blood Tribute” that’s slow, groovy, and dripping with sludge. It’s a refreshing break from the nonstop onslaught of the opening trio of songs and gives ample room to highlight some drum skills from Mateo. Even when it kicks back into higher gear, it feels better for that buildup and brief respite, which lends even more weight to the return of the doomy trawl. “The Plague” features a slew of guitar leads that absolutely slay me, and they’re probably my favourite on the record. Every single member of the band has to be praised, no one stands out because they’re all delivering – the riffs and drums are pummeling, the bass moves and lives, the leads are face liquefying, the vocals are gripping and sometimes legible.
The production has to be praised as well, because tech death production is one of the hardest things to nail. Often times something will get mixed poorly when buried under the layers of countless guitar tracks, drum fills, blast beats, vocals, and various pedals and effects. But this album sounds good without getting too close to being sterile or too clean, a pitfall for many a tech death band. It’s got breathing room for everything but it’s got enough grime and intelligent design that it still fills punchy, heavy, and organic. That’s a hard balance to nail, and I feel it’s in part thanks to Maze of Sothoth’s decision to return to some of the roots and explore a now oft-forgotten old school side of the subgenre.
This is not a bloated or overdrawn wank-fest for the band members to show off in unnecessary fashion – everything is coordinated to be as aggressive, straightforward, and engaging as possible. Structurally, Extirpated Light is much closer to a traditional death metal album – the songs are short, aggressive, and groovy, and built around (relatively) simpler compositions. Ironically Maze of Sothoth have stripped some of complexity out of the tech death formula and made a better album for it.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Maze of Sothoth have a nasty LP on their hands that deserves recognition for its successful design. Extirpated Light is a gnarly, impressive, and fun record that is sure to satisfy fans of regular death metal alongside others who are looking for something a little extra. If Fabio Marasco and company take another seven years to put out an album sequel, I have no doubt it will be worth the wait.