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I've heard some high praise for this band, so I investigated. Defined as "extreme technical death metal", it's pretty extreme, but the technical part I'm not seeing. This band exploits the same noodling that Beneath the Masscre and Origin use. It sounds like they're always using the same little sweeps to do their noodling. Gets really old, really fast.
That said, there are some very cool turn arounds, and sporadic switches in the songs that are pretty nice, and the album contains mostly good riffs. Solid drumming, some pivot roll blast beats, over abundance of sweeps, and occasionally ridiculously fast vocals.
It definitely borrows from Beneath the Massacre, and Origin, I see those as the two biggest influences.
If this was to be defined as "technical" I would have to ask, where are the odd time signatures? Where are the harmonies? The music is not cohesive enough to match bands like Obscura, or Necrophagist. To switch tempo randomly isn't really a good thing - I don't think I should have to point that out. It can be done to transition into a new part or to mark something in the song - just doing it to do it, is bad song writing.
Although it is very "brutal" and relentless, which is to it's merit - it's not cohesively technical, and too much using the same damn sweeps/runs with little effect (diminished, mostly in thirds - I promise, I can tell you exactly what it is - and it's in literally every song).
Conclusion: there are good riffs here and some good ideas, but there's a real lack of creativity, and really, really needs to lay off using the same sweep patterns.
Joining the ranks of tech-death giants such as Obscura is Archspire, hailing from Canada, with their debut album All Shall Align. Having already read glowing testimonials about All Shall Align, there was a certain interest in listening to the album, despite not being exactly a fan of tech-death.
Right from the opening track Deathless Ringing, it is relentless hammering by drummer Spencer on the listener's ears, with Archspire hardly taking any chances at all to let the listener take a break. Spencer's machine gun-like work on the bass drums, alternating between full on double bass and burst-fire shots such as on Deathless Ringing certainly makes the music flamboyant.
Combine that with the rapid-fire vocals of Oliver such as on the title track Archspire, where he almost seems to go on a competition with the bass drums, spitting out his words with fury. The alternating between deep growls and a higher pitched shout/scream also adds variety to the album. Bassist Jaron also proves himself throughout the album that he is more than capable, with the lead bass spots on certain songs such as on Archspire and Rapid Elemental Disolve and technical bass lines on Ghosts of Silent Tongue (which also happens to be the song that is perhaps most representative of Archspire's take on tech-death).
One other main highlight here is perhaps the axe-wielding duo Tobi and Dean. While the riffs are sufficiently complex and technical, what partially makes All Shall Align an enjoyable listen is the sense of melody that hasn't been forgotten and abandoned, evident from the soaring guitar solos that are present on songs such as Rapid Elemental Disolve. Sweep-picking is also a constant fare in All Shall Align, present in almost every song, yet this is one of the main reasons that caused the experience to be less enjoyable personally, with the seeming over-usage of such techniques, at times almost sounding like brainless wankery on what sounds like keyboards, especially on the section towards the end of Archspire. The duo also tend to overuse the different techniques once introduced. For example, the excessive usage of pinch-harmonics on the intro and towards the end of Ancient of Ancients also caused the enjoyment to falter slightly as well.
The band also displays their songwriting abilities, with tracks such as Archspire and Ghosts of Silent Tongue transiting suddenly into an acoustic section in the middle of the track, yet leaving no trace of awkwardness at all, with the latter even sounding almost beautiful on the acoustic section. This is most evident in the transition between Rapid Elemental Disolve and the closing, title-track All Shall Align, with half the track played on clean guitars and even has strings coming into the picture, emphasising more on the atmosphere for once, yet not forgetting the technicality on the clean guitars. However, the band goes into hyper-blast mode once more, ending the album with a bang. The musicianship of the individual members are also apparent, from the ability to stay on track despite the schizophrenic time signatures, with the songs stopping at times least expected and then going into full-blown chaos again as suddenly as it stopped.
The extremely polished quality, while common in most tech-death bands and is suitable for such styles of music, caused the guitars tone at times to sound "plasticy" and artificial, but this is perhaps the only price to pay for music to get as technical and fast as All Shall Align. This has also caused songs such as Rapid Elemental Disolve to sound almost like a broken 8-bit track with an overdose on adrenaline, and the sweep-picked riffs sounding like it could be taken off a Nintendo game, only sped up a couple of times.
Archspire's debut release is certainly a glowing tech-death album, evidence that the boundary to tech-death is limitless.