By Thor

Listening to the band Origin was always a reliable way to show the potential superiority of death metal to some of my mainstream, music-elitist friends who think that musical genius ends with Radiohead and musical technique is embodied by the Dave Matthews Band and nothing else.  My “Exhibit-A” never failed to make the point – Origin has always been extremely ambitious, even within a genre known for pushing the absolute boundaries of what’s musically possible within the rock paradigm.

However, my problem was that I could only get through two or three songs at a time before my attention span fried to a crisp and needed to be resuscitated by some simple slams.  Don’t get me wrong, I mean, that’s still two or three more songs than I can take of Radiohead, but it was a problem nonetheless. 

Anyway, problem solved: Origin’s latest offering “Entity” is the first time I can recall the band using substantial amounts of mid-tempo and even some groove (in relative terms of course), an ingredient I’ve always felt was sorely missing from an otherwise incredible recipe and one that sets the bar into orbit.

Conceptually, Origin is still exploring abstract terrors, the metaphysical and the meta-terrestrial.  Songs titles such as “Purgatory”, “Conceiving Death”, “The Descent”, and “Evolution of Extinction” speak for themselves.  Musically, Origin continues to feature spectacular, mind-bending guitar work from Paul Ryan, creative and complementing bass playing from Mike Flores, blazing fast drums that also include unique patterns capable of lobotomizing lesser drummers from the incomparable John Longstreth, and a rapid fire vocal assault showcasing Jason Keyser’s (Skinless) articulate, mid-guttural shriek in concert with vocal contributions from both Ryan and Flores.

The new flourishes – dare I say improvements – are relatively few, but potent nonetheless.  For one thing, similar to what Noisear was able to do in a grind context, Origin has figured out new places to take the music just when it seems that’s no longer possible.  Ryan’s riffing utilizes some weird assed tools in the tool belt, manipulating the phrasing, chording, and overall approach to eliciting noise from one’s axe to deliver some truly unique passages.  And while Keyser is different than former vocalist James Lee, there’s an additional vocal style added to the three-vocal onslaught that takes the emphasis away from the inevitable comparisons between the two singers by shaking up the overall vocal dynamic.  It’s a style I happen to enjoy - ultra deep gutturals, a welcome addition, though sparingly used.

Origin has always been the Cadillac of tech-death, but “Entity” packs a visceral wallop that’s been missing from their previous output.  The album is spectacular on several levels, not the least of which is its tempo dynamism.  Go out and get it, lest you be swallowed by a voracious and malignant black hole!