Archspire - Relentless Mutation - (8.5/10)
Published on November 2, 2017
Gang way for the freaks!
Something dramatic happened to Archspire between 2014’s The Lucid Collective and this year’s Relentless Mutation. Sure, bassist Jared Smith is new to the roster, and yes, his voluble, fret-molesting presence has no small impact on the end result, but the band entire have taken a small step, nay a giant leap, into territory other tech death acts can only dream.
Their previous record, home to manic bursts of technical fireworks and melodious noodling, was an impressive affair, no doubt. But the result was a feast of synonymy, as bad-ass as it was. Genre diehards ate it up, but rival albums like A Never-Ending Cycle of Atonement, Devourer of Worlds, Engineering the Void, and 0.00 Apocalypse (if you wanna go all brutal), placed Archspire’s second full-length on the back-burner. Needless to say, these four Vancouverites are through sitting shotgun; Relentless Mutation is a fine-tuned tour-de-force of high-functioning death metal.
The vocals by Oli Peters seem an apropos starting point given that his style will likely spawn a few detractors. It’s fittingly rough, at times phlegmy, but it’s his rapid-fire technique of spitting out sci-fi lyrics that is at once incredible and then just shy of sophomoric. The beginning of “Calamus Will Animate,” for example, is silly, out-of-control, and entirely befitting of the rhythmical insanity found therein. His counterparts on guitar, bass, and the skins, follow his lead to a tee, allowing the vocally dominant production to steer the way.
Choosing a favorite performance seems a futile endeavor. Unsurprisingly, the guitars of Dean Lamb and Tobi Morelli do seem to steal the spotlight, and for solid reason; the riffs are constantly tight, surgical, hopelessly jerky and colorful, easing in and out of those more tender moments Archspire so love playing. The rhythm section of Smith and drummer Spencer Prewett add weight and urgency to each track, while likewise displaying finesse and restraint on the mellower sections that graciously break up the blitzkrieg of notes and riffs.
Relentless Mutation is a consistently entertaining record, which, mind you, is not an easy achievement in the repetitious realm of tech death. Archspire blend melody, nuance, and the requisite chugs and breakdowns into a seven-track album that feels just the right length. While this reviewer could have used a couple more legitimate bangers like “Remote Tumour Seeker,” there’s no denying the kinetic brilliance of Archspire’s latest synapse-melting death metal showcase.