ARCHSPIRE "Bleed the Future"
Let's not pretend for even a second that we don't know what we're getting ourselves into when we turn on a new ARCHSPIRE record. The band has a certain schtick that they can comfortably call all their own because they have worked incredibly hard to own it. That schtick is that there is honestly not really any band out there that competes with them in terms of sheer technical speed, almost for the sake of it! I mean, BRAIN DRILL came pretty close and so did VIRAEMIA, but if we're talking about a band as prolific the closest thing in terms of sheer brutal intensity is ORIGIN. If you are unfamiliar with ARCHSPIRE but have heard any of those bands, you have something of an idea of what you're getting into here.
This new record is exactly what we've come to expect and is as unrelenting as ever. It can be argued that drummer Spencer Prewett might be the driving force here as his blastbeats and double-bass and blastbeats and fills and blastbeats and cymbal chokes and blastbeats are up front in the mix and something very easily focused on. The man just transcends mere mortal drumming capabilities at this point and his bpm and syncopation to the guitar noodles is just astonishing. That said, you don't listen to ARCHSPIRE just for the incredible percussive beats, you also listen to Archspire for the incredible percussive everything else. Dean, Tobi, and Jared can sweep and tremolo-pick every bit as awesome if not more so than pretty much any other string-slingin' shredders in tech-death. As awe-inspiring as that can be it's when they (slightly) slow it down for the basic chug riff, clean passage, or melodic interlude like 1:25-2:12 of the title track (which is actually all three of those) that they tend to really stretch out and show what they can do. It's in those moments the casual "it's just speed for speed's sake" listeners can find a real damn hook to latch onto, and it acts as a refreshing calm before the eventual storm that always returns with these guys. And if you think that's all incredible, wait until you stretch your ears to listen to Oliver, the vocalist. I mean, growling and screaming is already not the easiest of things to do, but now you have a vocalist with the percussive consonance and speed to match his bandmates and while maintaining proper diction over these lyrics...and there's a lot of them! I mean, if nothing else will blow your mind, surely this dude will finally be that thing that pushes you over the edge.
As awesome as these musicians are, what made this album a top-10 in my album of the year list was that there was definitely more of an emphasis on memorable moments in these songs. It's not just speed for the sake of speed, but rather finding those little hooks to pull in the listener and then hit them over the head with the technical precision. I mean, you can't help but bang your head and sing/growl along to tunes like "Drone Corpse Aviator," "Golden Mouth of Ruin," and that ridiculously infectious "Reverie on the Onyx." All of ARCHSPIRE's albums have been cohesive just because of the stylistic choices they've always made, but this record just has that X factor to make this their best recorded output to date.
This release is just damn enthralling, and far more challenging to play than to listen to.