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Sophicide is a three-man German outfit specialising in the art of technical death metal, and their debut full-length garnered quite a bit of attention when it released in August of 2012. Why the fuck am I reviewing it now? Well, for one, it's awesome. For another, I meant to put it on the runners-up section of my best of 2012 list, and I have to make amends now by giving it the review it damn well deserves. These fuckers deserve your attention, and "Perdition of the Sublime" really is one of the top 10 or so records of 2012. The band itself also has a fucking awesome logo. Look at it. Now read the rest of the review.
Now, I did say these guys were technical. How technical, you may ask? Think a cross between Fleshgod Apocalypse's guitarplay and maybe throw in some of Opeth's drumming. The vocals, however, are a bit different. They go between three tones, one of them being the most common low-pitched death growl that anyone who has listened to any death metal before knows. It gets the job done, but it's nothing special - not that I'm asking for special, mind you. I'm asking for music that sounds good, and this shit certainly does. The other tones alternate between a high-pitched scream more reminiscent of blackened death acts like Behemoth and a middle-pitched bark that's nearly indistinguishable from the common growl I mentioned earlier. Mechanics aside, the vocals do a spectacular job of directing the energy and the emotion behind the music, adding meaning to every syllable uttered. The power behind the vocals is what sets them apart from much of Sophicide's contemporaries, and one of the many reasons I found "Perdition of the Sublime" to be such a fantastic record.
What's that? You need more proof? Well, I prefer skeptics to retards, so let's have at it: "Perdition of the Sublime" has some of the most memorable guitar riffs out of any album I've heard from 2012, the obvious exceptions notwithstanding ("TCRA", anyone?). The best song to showcase Sophicide's fantastic songwriting skills is probably "Blood for Honour", the sixth song on the record. Somewhere around halfway through that song, I got lost in a sea of guitar, listening as the serene instruments bleated like sixty-nine flocks of sheep in heat. It was fantastic, and it was also way less effective at putting me to sleep than counting the stinky farm animals. You technical junkies will be right at home while listening to this record, as there are plenty of moments where the strings are being exposed to foreplay that would make the virgin Mary cum at the mere sight of it. These guys don't fuck around: they go up and down the length of the wood, shifting their fingers ever so slightly, yet producing quite the miraculous and mesmerising sound with the results of such changes in posture. The guitar tones themselves are crushingly heavy when they need to be - which is often - and eerily melodic when they're slinging those solos out like a Frenchie chucks muffins at a gay rights parade. In other words, Sophicide has a virtuoso in their back pocket.
Now here's where things get funky. Normally, I save my review of the drums for last, transitioning into my final words about the album (unless there's something special that warrants a fifth paragraph). I have to mix shit up today, though, because we have some assfuckery from the band themselves here. They say that some gentleman by the name of Ingo Kolb who mans the drum kit, but they also say that the founding member of the band did all the work for "Perdition of the Sublime". That man's name is Adam Laszlo, who began Sophicide as a one-man project in 2009. In an even more confusing turn of events, the Metal Archives page for this album lists some fucker named Sebastian Bracht as the guitar player, while Adam is the credited vocalist, and nobody did any fucking drumwork at all! What the fucking hell, dudes?
So now that I've thoroughly explained the fact that we have three conflicting sets of information, none of which I can really use in good conscious, I'll just talk about the drums as if there were a credited drummer. The drum tracks that are present on "Perdition of the Sublime" are the single most phoned-in things about the album, and they're <i <still rock-solid. Nothing about the drums seemed to be particularly noteworthy except for two things: speed, and execution. The control required to pull off the drumming that we hear on this album is in keeping with the stereotypical idea of technical death metal being all about speed, so of course I have to credit whoever the fuck did these drum tracks for being able to pull it off in that manner. I dig blast beats, I dig fast bass kicks, and I dig a bit of variety, so as long as you hit one of the other parts of the kit at some point every half-a-minute I'll be a happy man. Execution, though, is where things are a tad less generic, in that the drums seem very much like they were composed (if you can use that word when talking about drum tracks) specifically to fit the rest of the mix. It's a well-executed performance by Mystery Drummer 42, and I applaud his efforts and his skill. Unless of course Adam just programmed that shit, in which case, fucking say that on your album page! Fuckheads!
Germany's Sophicide takes a different lyrical approach to technical death metal than most of their conventional associates. Rather than telling tales of gore and strictly anti-religious themes, Sophicide penned a variety of odes to human ignorance and stupidity often miring in society throughout the eleven-track slab of mathematical madness that is "Perdition of the Sublime." Sophicide's approach acts as a counterpoint to the sub-genre's dire dependency on incoherent instrumental masturbation frequently deemed acceptable for technical death metal; the album manages to be insanely sophisticated throughout, yet also catchy and definitely not an intellectual insult on the musical spectrum. They hate stupidity so much they've attacked it on both ends!
I should perhaps clarify that I'm referring to Adam Lazlo and Sebastian Bracht when I say "they." One will quickly find that both men are exceptional musicians in every category. The sheer amount of utterly brilliant guitar acrobatics is enough to make anyone even remotely interested in technicality gasp in delight, but the duo's primary strength lies within the superb songwriting. Every song, although rooted in the same structure as technical death metal often is, drops and climbs on a multitude of enthralling pieces that are equal parts savage and perplexing. Sometimes they make things really memorable, especially the fiery blast-laden conclusion of "Freedom of Mind." With that said, they never run low on the essentials: smoking riffs so twistingly complex and precise that even Carl Sagan would crap himself, ravenous percussion often layered in blast beats and puzzlingly fun fills, bass work that would fry an amateur’s unprepared fingers, and traditionally harsh growls.
Yep, can't say the shattering gutturals are, uh, mathematical or technical; that sounds difficult, almost too difficult. Back on topic, Sophicide establishes an identity in purely organized chaos, and changeups are seldom found. Specifically, "Folie Á Deux" stops the mayhem for a minute or so before the madness ignites once more, and that's the sole anomaly available on "Perdition of the Sublime." The lack of musically unique tunes doesn't tear down the record at any rate, as each song provides enough chops and hooks to utterly pulverize the scheme of societal drivel. If I had to choose a favorite song, I'd probably pick "Freedom of Mind" as I already mentioned or "The Art of Atrocity," which sticks with me more than the other rampages; it's quite a catchy song, actually.
"Perdition of the Sublime" is definitely one of the better technical death metal offerings produced in 2012. You won't find any spacey, mega-abstract progressive tints like Spawn of Possession or Obscura, but Sophicide works well in their own skin, and they certainly find no trouble slithering through the rudimentary elements of technical death metal. Hell, Sophicide has dethroned a staggering portion of their counterparts simply based on the meaningful themes of their assault, and it's nice to have something lasting and impressive which isn't weighed down by twenty-minutes of chaotic sweep picking for the sake of chaotic sweep picking. In fact, the status quo of technical death metal could learn a lot from Sophicide.
This review was written for: www.Thrashpit.com