So, dear readers and lovers of all things extreme and amazing, the last eight to twelve weeks of any year are always the most exciting when it comes music releases. Quality bands wait until this time of year to try and sneak an entry in writers and reviewers end of year Top 10 lists. I have pretty much compiled and completed mine, but there have been a few late-comers and potential contenders in the past couple of weeks, and the sheer brutal brilliance that is Relentless Mutation by Canadian extreme tech death band, Archspire is undoubtedly one of these said contenders.
Straight off the bat, you will not be prepared for what is about to blast from your speakers in regards to how overall incredibly brilliant Relentless Mutation is. Every single fibre and minute detail contained within it, whether it be song structure, musicianship or clarity and depth of production make this album a class above many of those preceding it. To put Archspire into perspective, they are easily in the same realm and league as (yet forging ahead of!) Origin, Rings of Saturn, Cryptopsy, and their ilk. That is to say: just sheer unrelenting and blistering technical death metal, and it is magnificent perfection. What appeals to me about Relentless Mutation is that where other bands of the same category will just remain unrelenting for however long their albums are with perhaps a sneaky little quiet, slow filler, Archspire has made to sure to give us a break in each song to calm our sense before another onslaught of brilliance.
The technical proficiency and talent of bassist Jared Smith, I can not allow to go on understated! Where Nick Schendzielos of Job For a Cowboy excels, Jared has taken the baton from him, beaten him to a bloody pulp with it, and then happily waltzed to the finish line and at those of us behind him. Having said that, the mix and clarity of this album are just all total and outright superb. Not being a sound engineer, I can not imagine how difficult it must be to get a sound that allows each instrument, notes struck and vocal delivered be replicated, recorded and then turned around back through our stereos in the format that is Relentless Mutation is nothing short of heavy metal studio sound-engineering genius and magnificence. Producer Dave Otero has, without question, levelled Archspire up to that of almost untouchability regarding doing everything possible to make this band and their 2017 offering exceptional without question. Add to this the clear fact that on album number three Archspire’s songwriting ability and near perfect musicianship has raised the bar for all technical death metal wannabe’s and newcomers a lesson in aggression and on how to deliver it perfectly. Leading the beatings is Dean and Tobi on guitars who are collectively writing songs so technically awesome and worth of the title ‘TECHNICAL DEATH METAL’, they must certainly be seen as almost masters of their craft. Yes, there is unfathomable breakneck speed shredding but it is clear and easily digestible, and while that may be hard to comprehend in the realm of extreme metal, make no mistake that the ability to make music this heavy can be near impossible to make comprehensible and easy to take. Wholly Archspire has created seven incredible songs that contain so much depth and character those of us that are fans of the genre are drooling at such magnificence. And while I have talked about songwriting structure etc., I have tried to not write about one song over any others because as it stands on its own, Relentless Mutation has no aspect better or worse than any other. In short as a whole it is almost perfect.
While other bands are looking to throw as much into their song pot as they can and then making it a rancid sounding shit soup, Archspire, have most definitely filled their song pot to the brim with as much as they will allow. But it is their foresight to back off on the brutality for those of us listening and paying attention to get our collective heads together and appreciate every song and all it contains without being pummelled unmercifully start to finish. Now I will get to the lyrical blast throat bursts of Oliver. My god! What a throat. I reckon there would be few that can deliver with such speed and also fluidity and as Oliver… PERIOD! Normally we would, when talking about a backbone and driving rhythmic force of an album that it is is bass and drums, but not here. It is Oliver’s ability to brutally scream along with incredible drummer Spencer that makes our senses quiver in sheer awe what we are hearing. Not since ‘Suneater’ courtesy of Job For A Cowboy have I been so enraptured by an album of such technical extreme magnificence, and I honestly do not think I am giving Relentless Mutation enough credit.
Relentless Mutation is a grand total of 31 minutes and seven songs short. I would normally find an album of this unrelenting brutality a little hard to hit the repeat button on but not this time around. The sum of all its parts makes this album very accessible (on a tech death/extreme metal level) easy to take thanks to Archspire’s overall songwriting ability and musicianship, the insanely clear and glistening production, but overall we are gifted a heavy as heavy can get technical death metal album. Awe-inspiring without question.