Mordant Rapture – The Abnegation (Technical Death Metal)

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Ah The Artisan Era, a label that just keeps giving good tech-death to the world and they’re always improving by adding more and more great bands to their roster. Now enter Mordant Rapture and their debut EP “The Abnegation”. Is it yet another great release from the label or have they, for once, taken a misstep?

Reading the history of the band and how their debut got created is one that tells the tale of years of hard work, gallons of coffee, sleep deprivation, and doubts. The competition in this day and age is fierce so I can really relate with many bands having the same process before releasing something. The band started in 2013, which gives you an idea how long it’s taken the band to finally feel ready to release their first EP featuring five songs into the world. Was it worth the wait?

Yes, yes it was. One thing I really like with Mordant Rapture’s style is how they try to captivate a cinematic musical experience, somewhat in the veins of Fleshgod Apocalypse or Carach Angren. The sound is very different from those bands though as this is straight up technical death metal with a lot of symphonic elements to it, think Inferi (this is much better in my opinion though), Enfold Darkness or Spawn of Possession as examples. Already on the first track “Unsightly Beast” you get a flurry of great riffs, solos and get an instant feel on what Mordant Rapture are all about, delivering class symphonic tech-death heavy influenced by the grandiose nature of film scores. Meaning in other words this is epic stuff, who doesn’t like well written film scores? Having that as an influence in the technical realm of metal works great, it’s not something new but it’s not something I hear too often either. “Withered” is a shorter song than the opener, this is way more of a heads on approach and on this track their blackened death and black elements shine as you hear influences from both Emperor and Dissection. Great stuff right?

What cinematic album wouldn’t be complete without an intermission track with piano and violin, adding to the atmosphere for the follow-up track? That’s exactly what “A Plea Above Ashes” is there for and while I would want it to smoothly transition into the next track, it doesn’t which makes it feel a bit out of place to me. That also leaves the only negative part on the album for me. “Quell the Voiceless” brings up the pace, where the drums especially gets me going and are really dominant. This is also the track that I feel showcase all Mordant Rapture tricks on their debut. The symphonic elements, blackened tech-death, crushing drums and thundering riffs are all there at once to make it a go to song for me when I go back to “The Abnegation”. The finisher “Natal Trophies” is the longest and most symphonic track on the album, which just like the last scenes in a movie ends in an epic way. Here the vocals are better than ever where a wider range of growls and techniques are used. A great way to end this 22 minute journey into the world of Mordant Rapture which makes me want more of this.

Hell I love this music. It’s not something that breaks the boundaries of tech-death but this is insanely well produced symphonic tech-death that has very few flaws in it. Mordant Rapture displays great musicianship and a great range of aspects to their music. This is the kind of music that will make you miss Spawn of Possession and Necrophagist less or you Inferi fans out there forget they even existed. That’s something very few does on their debut album and I can only hope an upcoming full-length won’t take five years. The Artisan Era has done it again, adding a new band to their ranks that shows how hard work pays off. “The Abnegation” is not only one of the best debut albums of the year but one of the best releases overall.

Label: The Artisan Era
For fans of: Enfold Darkness and Spawn of Possession
Release date: July 13th, 2018
Favorite song: Quell the Voiceless
Score: 4.5/5

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Rivers of Nihil – Where Owls Know My Name (Technical Death Metal)

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Let me start with saying that Rivers of Nihil is as a matter of fact one of my favorite techdeath bands and have been for years now. Together with bands like Beyond Creation, Archspire, Decrepit Birth, and Spawn of Possession it’s a band I always go to when I have the urge for some technical and progressive metal. There’s always been a feeling that Rivers of Nihil has never unlocked their full potential though and in some ways lacked in their own sound and identity. That being said I had really high hopes for Where Owls Know My Name as the singles I’d heard before were really something completely different from their older music which seemed to have sparked something brand new.

For those unfamiliar with Rivers of Nihil the band was formed in 2009, hailing from USA, has two EPs and two full-length albums released prior to Where Owls Know My Name. Their albums are focused on the different seasons, with the past two albums “Whereas the Conscious Seed of Light” and “Monarchy” were about Spring and Summer. Where Owls Know My Name obviously continue walking on this road with the focus here being on Autumn. The music have always had a lot of emphasis on creating an atmospheric feeling to it more than your common techdeath band which makes the band stick out in my eyes but also means, for some, Rivers of Nihil is a band you get or you don’t. Some even going as far as saying this isn’t technical death metal. Each to their own I guess, I don’t really care if they are labeled atmospheric techdeath, prog, jazz or whatever personally I think Rivers of Nihil are doing a superb job creating music that has a lot of emotion to it with sweet melodies and brings harmony, no matter what label you put on it.

Where Owls Know My Name takes their song-writing to a whole other level. Rivers of Nihil have really captured the atmosphere of Autumn with this one, especially with the great use of keyboards, trumpets, cellos and saxophones that makes this album a whole other beast than their previous releases. It’s really impressive and I get a new feeling each time I take the album for a spin. It is an album I do feel you need to be in a certain mood to listen to though in order to fully grasp and understand it though, seeing it is quite different and the influences are many. They’ve left most of their core sound behind and this album has gone even further into the atmospheric sound than ever before, even having a jazz feel to it. Breaking their own boundaries. That to me is a much welcoming move but I can see it perhaps leaving a few fans shaken up by it. Rivers of Nihil have only evolved though and grown even better in my eyes. Where Owls Know My Name is one of the best albums released this year that gets even better with each listen. This is what technical death metal is all about to me, full of emotions through instruments, breaking barriers, creating an atmosphere you could only dream of. Just listen to The Silent Life, A Home, Where Owls Know My Name or the instrumental track Terrestria III: Wither and you’ll see. It might not be for everyone but for me it’s close to a five, the bands best album to date, and I can’t wait to hear what Rivers of Nihil do next after having ascended into a new being.

Label: Metal Blade Records
For fans of: Decrepit Birth and Fallujah
Release date: March 16th, 2018
Favorite song: The Silent Life
Score: 4.5/5

Archspire – Relentless Mutation (Technical Death Metal)

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Archspire is a band which first got me into techdeath together with Revocation, Beyond Creation, Nile and the likes only a couple years ago. With that said I’ve never truly got into them, not as much as with Beyond Creation for example who I rate as the best techdeath band there is. However Relentless Mutation has changed me. This album alone have made me go from liking the band as they were one of the first bands I heard from the genre, to a band I know will call myself a fan of.

I already knew I would change my view on them as the singles they released were all top class techdeath. The opener Involuntary Doppelgänger I’ve heard countless of times by now and when it kickstarted this album I still find myself enjoying it. The album keeps on blasting me with sheer force, world class riffs and a trip around the universe unlike any other. Any song on this album would be a good pick for my favorite song section, because in all fairness they are all of insanely high techdeath quality but they are a couple songs that sticks out. It’s the albums title track Relentless Mutation that wins it for me in the end. The tempo-changes and musicianship shown on that track makes every single hormone in my body that produces happiness.

Archspire have blown me away and as someone who haven’t really seen the greatness in them before this is a big surprise. It will be really hard for me to pick the best techdeath album this year between Decrepit Birth’s Axis Mundi and Archspire’s Relentless Mutation. Both masterpieces in their own rights that should be in any metalheads collection.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Archspireband
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Archspireband
Label: Season of Mist
For fans of: Beyond Creation and Spawn of Possession
Favorite song: Relentless Mutation
Score: 5/5

Decrepit Birth – Axis Mundi (Technical Death Metal)

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Here comes another release from a band that shouldn’t need any introduction. Decrepit Birth, formed 2001, are definitely considered one of the best techdeath bands in existence with their last two albums Diminishing Between Worlds and Polarity being masterpieces. It’s been seven long years since Polarity came out so Axis Mundi is a long awaited album for many metalheads out there. So how does Axis Mundi hold their ground against the rest of the bands discography?

I’ll say this straight away, Polarity remains my favorite album from Decrepit Birth but Axis Mundi is a damn close second. They do differ quite a bit in sound and approach of style so that being said Axis Mundi is another beast all together. Again a top class release to add to their already great discography either way. They are still a force to be reckoned with after all these years. Whereas I had some problem with Origin not being brutal enough Decrepit Birth still is. The riffs, the solos, vocals, drumming and production, Decrepit Birth nails it all yet again with Axis Mundi. Be it Spirit Guide, Hieroglyphic, Transcendental Paradox, Mirror of Humanity or Epigenetic Triplicity you will have a freaking good time. The instrumental track Embryogenesis and Orion are also personal favorites of mine. I mean hell as you already see that’s more than half the album right there being instant techdeath classics of mine. That’s how good this album is. I just can’t grasp how many times I started to headbang as there was a sweet tempo-change with killer riffs or solo going on for days in my mind as I air-guitar away on my seat. The change from being more towards the progressive death metal side on Diminishing Between Worlds and Polarity to mixing it up with adding the more brutal sides they had on …And Time Begins is what makes this yet another masterpiece from them. Which means it doesn’t matter which album you like the most from Decrepit Birth, they have something for everyone in here!

For me this is the best technical death metal album released so far this year. Axis Mundi will be one of the albums every band will want to beat and I am not sure anyone can. Decrepit Birth made a wonderful return with Axis Mundi and I hope we don’t have to wait seven years for another album.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/decrepitbirth
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/decrepitbirth
Label: Nuclear Blast and Agonia Records
For fans of: Origin and Necrophagist
Favorite song: Epigenetic Triplicity
Score: 5/5

Hideous Divinity – Adveniens (Technical/Brutal Death Metal)

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Guess what? There is a third good album that came out April 28th! Hideous Divinity is a band I am sure many of you are familiar with. Being formed in 2007 (in Norway actually) and featuring two ex-Hour of Penance back then they took the brutal technical death metal scene by storm. Since then quite a few lineup changes have happened, one were Mauro Mercurio (ex-Hour of Penance) left forcing Enrico Schettino to rebuild. That didn’t stop him nor the band though as the debut album and sophomore received much praise from the metal community. Adveniens has been on many peoples minds when thinking what album can be a contender for best techdeath album this year.

What strikes me straight away is the punishing drums that keeps on hammering your skull. Enrico hasn’t lost his touch on the guitar either as he has yet another really strong performance. Stefano Franceschini on bass (Aborted) adds a lot of heavyness with his bass play, as expected from a man with his caliber and he already showed it on Cobra Verde, this time he is even better though. There is a lot here that you can hear have the roots from Hour of Penance, which isn’t a bad thing since it’s one of my favorite bands when it comes to techdeath. Ages Die starts off violent with some of the best work Hideous Divinity has done. Hard to top that you would think right? Be sure as hell they do though! Passages starts off slow (one of the few times you get to breath on the album) and it features several different “passages” throughout the song, showcasing a lot of different aspect to their music. The song got a bit of a Nile touch to it that way (I’ve always loved how they change tempos) and it sticks out for me.

All in all this is a great album. Hideous Divinity is definitely one of the best technical death metal bands going, having released three solid albums now. Getting slightly better with each one. Italy might just have Europe’s best techdeath scene right now with Septycal Gorge, Deceptionist (featuring two ex-Hideous Divinity members), Hour of Penance and Hideous Divinity all released top albums these past three years. And they don’t look like they are slowing down either!

Adveniens is out now through Unique Leader Records.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/hideousdivinity
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/HideousDivinity
For fans of: Hour of Penance and Nile
Favorite song: Passages

Virulent Depravity – Fruit of the Poisoned Tree (Technical Death Metal)

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What do you get when you get three very talented technical musicians together? You get Virulent Depravity! The band was created by Colin Butler, who is on guitar, bas and vocals duty. He quickly got the attention from well-known musicians within the technical death metal community and before he knew it he had guitarist Malcolm Pugh (Inferi, ex-Entheos) and drummer Kevin Paradis (Svart Crown, ex-live Benighted) in his line-up.

Fruit of the Poisoned Tree is the bands debut album. Get ready for a flurry of blasting solos, high speed tech-death with a very high level of quality throughout the album. You can definitely tell this is the craftsmanship of some veterans in the scene who knows how to maintain quality and pushing themselves all the way through. The guitars and the sound of it takes me back to Spawn of Possession and their legendary Incurso album. Not a small feat. This is one of the more technical albums I’ve heard in a long time, even for a technical death metal album it’s very heavy on the solos and tempo changes. Meaning this is the wet dream to people who like their tech-death as technical as humanly possible. Whereas I am personally more of a Hour of Penance kind of tech-death type of guy I still need my fill of this type of thing too, I just need to be in the right mood.

Virulent Depravity delivers what most metalheads hoped for, a freaking sweet technical death metal album for fans of Spawn of Possession, Origin and Archspire to dig into. Fruit of the Poisoned Tree is out April 7th through The Artisan Era Records.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/virulentdepravity
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/VDepravity
For fans of: Spawn of Possession and Origin
Favorite song: Mechanized Defilement

Hour of Penance – Cast the First Stone (Technical/Brutal Death Metal)

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Italian brutal techdeath masters Hour of Penance are back with a flurry of blistering riffs and brutality some bands can only dream of to jell together into a perfect mix. And oh does it deliver! After having listened to the single XII Century Imperial Crusade a million times already I knew this album was going to be something special. However after listening to the album I am still in ave. XII Century Imperial Crusade, as great as it is, isn’t even one of the best tracks on the album!

Track after track Hour of Penance keeps on giving me some of the best riffs and music I’ve heard in a long time. The album is so polished, yet undeniable crushing and I can only applaud them for keeping such high quality during their career even on their seventh release. The addition of drummer Davide “BrutalDave” Billia (Beheaded, Septycal Gorge and Xenomorphic Contamination) only seems to have fuelled this tank of destruction that is Hour of Penance. I have to say time after time again when I hear Davide he rises on my list of the best drummers in the world, he puts in a lot of hard work and has never let me down so far.

Hour of Penance has already released a contender for album of the year. I urge you, do not miss this album!

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/hourofpenance
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/HourofPenance
For fans of: Nile and Origin
Favorite song: Cast the First Stone