Written by Kep
Deadman Glory – Voyager
Technical death metal from Russia
Released June 27 via independent/self-release
I’ll be honest, I had no idea what to expect from Deadman Glory’s debut release Voyager. The info available called it technical death metal, but the artwork said black or folk metal, so I was intrigued right off the bat. Plus the band is from Moscow, Russia, a scene which tends to produce brutal death and slam more often than other things. Then I checked the runtime and found that this full-length clocks in at less than 27 minutes. I promise, I was the living embodiment of the confused math lady meme.
Then I shut up my inner dialogue and gave Voyager a spin, and godDAMN. Who cares what I expected—this thing rips.
Deadman Glory sounds like the hyperactive offspring of shreddy video game soundtracks and modern death metal. It’s insanely fast and technical like Beneath the Massacre, but instead of aggressive and vicious it’s joyous and introspective. It’s like if you took typical techdeath and gave each band member a gallon of espresso, then told them they would be paid by the note. It’s so damn fun!
Deadman Glory’s style is the definition of technical insanity: sky-high energy level and virtuosic speed. “Answers in Obscurity” kicks things off with piano/organ synths in unison, playing a speedy classically-inspired introduction before the band joins in full. It’s a high energy opener, 2:35 of pure adrenaline, and it’s a great tone-setter for the album. Up next is “Back to Nothing”, which shows off Deadman Glory’s consistently fantastic counterpoint between twisting guitar lines and lively bass. And trust me, you won’t want to miss the jazzy bass solo at :15. “Cyclical Time” doesn’t relent on the tornado of notes, the guitar cascading over and over again atop astonishingly quick and clean pounding drums. And then the three minutes of “Duality of Being” will straight up take your breath way, as the song bursts out of the gates noticeably faster than everything before it.
“Light” finally allows for some calm space to breathe and places a bit more emphasis on groove and expression of the lyrics, before instrumental centerpiece “Voyager” blasts off into the heavens with a plethora of intricate riffs, including some special call-and-response passages that the guitar plays with itself. The final full track is “Portals”, which features an eerie, extremely Slugdge-esque opening that leads to soulful melodic work, and outro “Uncertainty” closes the record with an lovely three minutes of unaccompanied finger-style guitar.
Alexey Tikhonov (guitar/bass/vocals) absolutely slaying across the runtime—flying arpeggios, rapid tremolo-picked melodies, sweep picking aplenty, and extraordinarily speedy solos are peppered into every song. Voyager is filled with breathtaking moments that will keep your jaw firmly affixed to the floor. It’s no exaggeration to say that his leads are more complex that most bands’ solos. Tikhonov also manages to play some surprisingly poignant melodies amid all that absurdity, like in the striking opening section of “Portals”. And it’s not just the guitarwork that’s so impressive, because his bass lines are every bit as complex. In many ways it reminds me of Andrew Kim’s work in Inferi: relentlessly intricate, extremely fast, and just as involved as the guitar. The solo bass passage in “Answers in Obscurity” and the blink-and-you-miss-it bass intro to “Duality of Being” are both high points on the record, simply because his bass playing is such a joy.
Measuring up to his bandmate’s skill in every way, Dmitriy Slanevskiy also delivers an exhilarating performance from behind the kit. I want—no, NEED—a playthrough video from him for every single song on this album. You might think that unrelentingly swift drumwork would get tiresome over the course of 27 minutes, but you’d be wrong, because he keeps the interest level high by remaining nuanced even while playing at whirlwind tempos. I’m particularly impressed by what he does in “Light”, blending some of the fastest blast beats I’ve ever heard, punchy traditional death metal rhythms, lightning-paced double bass, and a few moments of relatively calm subtlety, all across a track that breathes a bit more atmospherically than some others. It speaks volumes that at no point during Voyager’s seven tracks did I ever feel like Slanevskiy was playing only with velocity and nothing else; the dude’s got a brain behind those hands and feet.
If I had one complaint to voice, it would be that Tikhonov’s vocals feel extraneous every now and then. It’s not that they’re bad—the vocal performance is a very good one, and his sound reminds me a lot of Anders Friden of In Flames—but the instrumental work is so strong and interesting that sometimes the vocals aren’t missed when they’re not present. In fact, the title track “Voyager” might be the strongest on the record, and it’s completely instrumental. This is a bit of a shame, because the introspective, self-searching lyrics are nicely written and meaningful. The words explore ideas of purpose and meaning, as well as the struggle of every person to find their path: “Should I fight or should I run? / Should I hate or should I love?”
A note on the production: I haven’t been able to dig up the information on who did the mixing and mastering on Voyager, but given that the project is independently released, I’d assume that it was handled by the band itself. In my humble opinion, the vocals sit a little too high in the mix, but outside of that, the album sounds fantastic. There’s clarity and definition across all of the instruments, and the guitar/bass/drums balance is pretty much perfect. The master is very clean but isn’t so compressed as to sound artificial, which would be a real dealbreaker.
All told, this is a must-listen for fans of techdeath, and I think it’ll be a thrilling spin for all metal fans. Deadman Glory have come out of nowhere with an album I’ll be jamming many more times this year. Voyager is available now!
Favorite track: Duality of Being