Saturday, April 19, 2014

Soreption - Engineering the Void [2014]

Remember the last time overdone tech-death wankery was actually fun? I think it was about 1995-1996 when a joint of Suffocation/Cryptopsy releases ended that phase. Remember the last time death metal wasn't about how many strings you could pluck in 5 seconds or how many vocal chords you could abuse, but about the actual quality and flow of your riffs? Well, that must have been a long time ago. Granted, I understand that as an angry, frenetic teen it's hard to deprecate the brutality and the seamless conjunction of myriad guitar riffs that brutal/technical death metal has so unabashedly spoon-fed us, but so many of these bands have been hamstrung by their deliberate attempts at sounding as ornate and elliptical as possible that it's difficult to enjoy even a fraction of such material after a fair amount of spins. Double-bass drums. Pernicious, endless streams of guitar technicality. Growls deeper than powder barrels. And this is just the more ''considerate'' side of thing, folks. I haven't even mentioned the bombastic djent lovers and the whole rotten deathcore movement that allegedly (and rather unfortunately) gained its momentum from the stream of 90's tech-death masterworks...

So, based on what I just said, one might think that I'm demeaning Sweden's Soreption on their sophomore, ''Engineering the Void''. Quite on the contrary.  What attracted me to it - even if I wasn't spellbound throughout - was decisive, cohesive construction (''engineering'', if you will) of riffs that sounded a manifold times better than any random tech-death cripple unburdening its riff barrages that had been stocked ever since the guitarists could play a decent riff and the drummer an audible beat. Yes, Soreption is not redefining the optometry of technical death metal as we know it, but there's some much brilliance and adroitness to be found in the quality of the album that's nearly impossible not to bob your head in eager accord. Soreption is, not surprisingly, fueled by Decapitation, Necrophagist, Cryptopsy (though not so much by Suffocation) among a handful of other culprits, but unlike so many other attempts at aping and ripping off ubiquitous sounds their awesomeness is not confined to an initial excitement at the clobbering drums and the textured guitar explosions. The riffs here are played not just with ridiculous accuracy but with with a simultaneous grasp of the ''song'' concept; meaning they're not strewing bits and pieces of virtuoso tricks here and there - they're making a coherent, fully functioning mecha-feast of gears perpetually rolling and keeping the album's flux in motion, and with startling sordidness and raw power at that.

Unquestionably, the guitars are the leaders of this album. The moment ''Reveal The Unseen'' unfolds, sans any ambient effects whatsoever, Soreption makes its statement pretty fucking blatant. Tremolos upon tremolos leading up to semi-harmonious melody patterns leading up to further tremolos leading up to mazes of cavorting, acrobatic chug rhythms akin to Decapitation's masterful ''Winds of Creation'' form a miraculous set of riffs that, in the end, leave the listener dazzled, if not utterly awed. Soreption's guitar tone is not so unfamiliar, but it's something of an alternative to more polished textures; sounding like a rusted, vituperative collision of metallic surfaces. And yet the drums are also fully capacious to fuel the percussion of so dense a riff-maze, and there's no denying their significance. But don't the Swedes give any space for anything else? Of course they do. Tracks like ''Monumental Burden'' have injections of guitar solos as well as random atmospheric interludes. Indeed, the leads rock like hell (something Muhammed Suiçmez of Necrophagist would be proud of), but I shouldn't go without saying that Soreption's main focus is rhythm.

With tracks like ''I Am You'' or the excellent ''Breaking the Great Narcissist'', I found myself revisiting this record more than just a few times. The sheer intensity and determination of ''Engineering the Void'' makes it one hell of a juggernaut of tech-death in the year 2014 - surely one of the front runners of the genre this year. Sure, in that momentous struggle to retain balance Soreption may have undergone a few inconsistencies, and a occasional plunge into redundancy is inevitable these days, especially when you're practicing such a dexterous sub-genre of metal, but otherwise I really had no major complaints. Even the vocals of Fredrik Söderberg shine with durability and psychosis. In short, while those in favor of old school death metal will probably toss this away as a mere piece of junk, this is more than solid choice for modern death metal aficionados. So stop what you're doing right now and enter that fucking void.

Reveal the Unseen
Breaking the Great Narcissist
I Am You

Rating: 87%

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