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Fast talkin' - 90%

MikeyC, February 9th, 2018

Since they first dropped their debut album All Shall Align, Archspire have been hell-bent on creating some of the fastest technical death metal this side of Origin. While I believe firmly that they achieved that on their last album The Lucid Collective, it wasn’t until they released this one that the band had finally gained some extra attention. It’s actually totally warranted, too, as their third effort Relentless Mutation contains some of their strongest material to date.

The first song and what will likely be a crowd favourite at shows, “Involuntary Doppelganger,” introduces the idea of what this album is all about. Before you can settle in, you’re bombarded with what might be the fastest vocal delivery in death metal up to now. Oli Peters really goes all out with his vocals on this release, expanding on what he was doing on the previous two albums, and dictates at velocities that would humiliate a hurtling comet. While this happens all over the album, the two songs that really test his speed, and the listener’s comprehension, are the previously mentioned “Involuntary Doppelganger,” and “Calamus Will Animate.” The former is just a total barrage of vocal lines, coming at you from all directions, and frying your brain with endless words and syllables. The latter is more a controlled machine gun (literally) – a constant, automatic stream of consciousness that really takes some lung control to pull off correctly. Both songs perfectly encapsulate the talent of Peters here, and, while unrelenting vocal lines seem downright silly and gimmicky, I assure you that Archspire are not a gimmick. Even when the vocals are their own riff in “Human Murmuration,” which just happens to be my favourite song here, they are integrated in such a way to make them work for the band and take their unique talents beyond a mere gimmick.

More to that point, the vocals would be less important if the lyrics were amateurish, but that is another aspect of the band that has taken a giant leap. Not one single curse word is uttered throughout the album, and the lyrics deal with something called the A.U.M. and their “drip” which is actually a fascinating read if you want to read the booklet. This type of sci-fi concept is perfect for Archspire, and they clearly put a lot of thought into their themes.

Beyond the vocals and lyrics, the music itself is still top-notch, and totally what you would expect from a band like this who try to defy the limits of human speed. This defiance is mostly shown in the drumming, with alternating hand-blasts and the wave after wave of double kicking bursts. It creates the perfect backdrop to the music and even gets some time to properly shine in “Relentless Mutation.” The bigger star of the show here, though, is the guitar work. Sweeping and soloing to their heart’s content. But even though the guitars are designed for speed and heaviness, they aren’t afraid to have a melodic edge, shown in some of the melody-infused riffs of “A Dark Horizontal” and “The Mimic Well,” plus the atmospheric sections to break up their riff and drum attack, for example “Involuntary Doppelganger” and “The Mimic Well.” The bass guitar, while sometimes getting lost in the melee, does get chances to come up and show that he can also bust out some riffs on his own.

It may seem that Relentless Mutation is nothing more than just a whirlwind of notes and beats that make no sense, but despite their speed, there’s actually plenty to catch on to, and the music is created in such a way that there’s time to still get your bearings. The vocal break in “Human Murmuration,” the second half of “Remote Tumour Seeker,” the melodic closing of “The Mimic Well” are but a few examples of Archspire knowing what the music needs and making sure that they don’t get too ahead of themselves when speed is the name of the game. This forethought is a big reason why this album work so well. It’s not just half an hour of blur – there’s a clear and direct path to this madness, and they have created seven songs worth of clarity to what they wanted to achieve. Speediness with catchiness.

Relentless Mutation is not perfect by any means. “The Mimic Well” is probably the weakest song here, and I thought they could’ve reduced the number of clean guitar sections in an album that barely cracks 30 minutes. However, I can’t deny that there is a lot to like here, and this band is rightfully leading the pack and can have a very bright future if they stick to their guns. The vocals are the focal point here, but the whole package works really well and is absolutely worth listening to if you’re a fan of this type of hyperblasting sonic madness.

More production value; Plays more by the book - 81%

MrMetalpants, November 9th, 2017
Written based on this version: 2017, CD, Season of Mist

Archspire's third release offers a more polished release than before. You can definitely feel the production value on this in the crisp recording and the great eq, but the downside is that the band seems to be playing by the rules a little bit here. There's still their extremely distinguishable sound on every single track, but they reign it in a little bit. Some may call this a maturation, and I agree with half of that.

I was trying to decide what is the instrument that really defines this album, and by extension, this band. At first glance I thought the vocals were the one, but if you do a listen through of only the vocals, you start to realize that it is unique but could be on plenty of lesser "core" albums and not miss a beat. The vocals are very impressive and even outpace plenty of Corpsegrinder's recordings (Easily surpasses his live vocals. This band's lead singer is aces live.) Next I tuned into the guitar work. Now it's saying a lot that the very impressive guitar work is the weakest link in curating their style. The riffs are chunky and heavy in parts, blistering in others, and can be quite acrobatic. That's the rhythm guitar. The lead guitar is not as technical as they come by any means. They keep the noodles to a minimum and feed you solid protein in the way of tasty licks and cascading progressions that stick with you. Once I had arrived at the drum listen-through, I had found it. The drums are what make this band. Listen to 02:15 on "Human Murmuration" or the light sections on "relentless Mutation" (specifically the use of quadruplets there). Everything about the drums are magnificent. The speed, technicality, and unique snare play. My second to final listen-through was devoted to the bass. Not many albums can you be fully entertained with the bass alone. Not only does it soar high above the guitars in many spots, the follows the guitars wherever they may roam and does so with flair.

Overall, Relentless Mutation is a very solid release, though not reaching the heights reached on their other albums. The only annoying part (and very annoying at that) is the beginning to "Calamus Will Animate". That part really annoyed me to no end. Other than that part, the album never reaches any lows; It just sort of plateaus on a handful of occasions, like on "Remote Tumor Seeker". That is the only song I really didn't like. It's not bad, just nothing really clicked with me other than the odd emphasis placements when he sings the title words. If this is your first endeavor of the band, be warned that there are many death core elements, but they never harm the song in any way (Except for maybe one almost-pig-squeal). They are a band in the top of their class, along with Rings of Saturn, and hopefully can keep releasing such solid material. Also, it's another quite short album, which has been a pattern in 2017. Quality over quantity here.

Favorite Tracks:
--Human Murmuration (It gets amazing halfway through)
--Relentless Mutation
--Involuntary Doppelganger
--A Dark Horizontal

Technical Skill: 92% Originality: 87% Song writing: 68% Album structure: 76%
(11/01/2017 Edit)

Spawn of Possession on crack and meth - 94%

Murauder, October 20th, 2017

Despite having seen Archpire live on multiple occasions, nothing really particularly stuck out about then. They just seemed like another "wank-metal" band from Canada. It wasn't until teasers for this album started coming out that I realized I was looking at a band that is, in my opinion, at the tip of the spear of modern technical death metal. "Involuntary Doppelganger" was my first experience with this album and I did not anticipate that each and every song on 'Relentless Mutation' would be of the same high caliber. To those familiar with Spawn Of Possession, specifically the 'Incurso' album, you will see a lot of similarities between that album and 'Relentless Mutation', except it's 50x faster, 10x more intense, and 2x shorter in length.

I believe the biggest problem with most modern technical death metal is that there is little to no cohesion or structure to the music; its often thrown away as a means of jamming even more pointless technicality into an already excessively technical song. With this album, Archspire managed to play right on that line of senseless technicality and structural cohesion. Multiple songs on this album contain 'choruses', and by that I mean sections that actually repeat and give you a sense that you're actually listening to a well-thought out composition (e.g. Calamus Will Animate, Relentless Mutation). The track list is also perfectly ordered so that each song flows into the next, as it should be. Furthermore, each song on this album is notably unique despite employing almost identical playing styles in each. "Relentless Mutation", the title track, as well as "A Dark Horizontal" are prime examples of this unexpected variety. It is one of the few technical death metal albums where the listener can actually recall which song was which after listening to it once or twice. Finally, the album is surprisingly melodic, which is yet another component which is often omitted in tech death releases. There are many passages throughout the album which are simply beautiful, for lack of a better term.

The musicianship on this album is absolutely incredible and it helps that it can actually be heard in the mix. Its impossible to write this without sounding cliche, but the guitarists and bassists truly take technical playing to a whole new level. The sheer speed, precision, and creativity of their riffs in literally every song is undeniably jaw dropping. Likewise the drummer, Spencer Prewett, once again proves that he has the stamina of an African long distance runner. This brings me to why I did not give this album a higher score: the vocalist. Oli Peters is an excellent writer and a cool cat to hang out with, but his vocal performance on this album is on the same level of comprehensibility as Sean Beasley of Dying Fetus. I understand that he is quite passionate about his tech death rap style but it would really be nice if there would be some semblance of articulation in his raspy growling. This is just my own personal objection; I'm just glad he's not as bad as Matt McGachy from Cryptopsy. For what it's worth, Oli Peters' raspy growls were right on point, carefully placed and perfectly executed throughout all the tracks of this excellent album, despite not being able to tell what the hell he's on about.

Relentlessly Mutating - 76%

Evokaphile, September 23rd, 2017

I first discovered Archspire’s inhuman brand of technical death metal at the impressionable age of seventeen when their 2011 debut album All Shall Align somehow landed in my crosshairs despite their essentially unknown status at the time. Fast forward to 2017 and not only has the band’s fan base grown exponentially since, but my infatuation with the genre as whole has gradually waned to the point of tedium. No longer do I find myself thrilled with arpeggiated finger blasting exercises ran through a baker’s dozen worth of computer programs, and on the whole I’ve been tired of the tick-for-tack interchangeability of such a homogenized, uncharismatic genre for a long time. That said, I recognize merit when I see it, and Archspire’s third full-length is full of it. Thanks to significantly more interesting compositions and a production job that finally does them justice, this Canadian tech death outfit has once again successfully rekindled some hope in my weary heart. To be perfectly honest, I had almost forgotten how thrilling getting blasted by music paced at 300,000bpm could be, especially when it’s played with the kind of precision these guys are known for brandishing. Indeed, Relentless Mutation is a wholesale improvement on every aspect of their sound, and it does a fine job at mitigating the nagging issues found on their previous works all the while making strides towards becoming more than a death metal gymnastics act.

At its core, Relentless Mutuation is an album of millisecond snapshots capturing a totalitarian virtuosity built to thrill and destroy anything within earshot, and in this regard it accomplishes its goals and then some. Their trademark speed and laser-like precision has only become more perplexing and urgently paced, once again setting the band atop the heaping mountain of speed demons deadest on surmounting some unspoken world record for the fastest band on earth. Such a development of course is a rather natural expectation, but where Archspire have really managed to raise eyebrows is in the songwriting department. Everything, I mean everything is tightened up this time around. On previous efforts there was an underlying sense of limitation ever present among the string section which offered up a proper knuckle-dusting that impressed at first glance but ultimately remained comfortably nestled within the scope of a handful of industry standard scales and chord progressions. Thankfully, the time between releases has been well spent on maturing from a musical standpoint, and it's clear the band has refused to settle on past laurels with a strikingly more diverse platter of synapse-cooking riffs and increasingly nuanced song structures for aficionados to sink their teeth into.

One could name-drop any track here to justify the aforementioned point (Human Murmation anyone?), but frankly nary a moment passes where the entire band doesn’t completely outshine their former selves. Spencer Prewett has once again proven himself to be one of the best drummers in the industry, balancing speed and creativity in equal measure to serve as a rhythmic focal point of the highest order. Offering up minefields of blindingly fast blast beats offset with heartstopping fills and syncopated cymbal work sounds like a cliché trope of the genre when taken out of context, but he does it better than anyone in the game, and his charismatic performance alone is damn-near worth the price of admission. Once again, the massively improved production job serves the individual performances well, adding both depth and impact to their annunciative approach to death metal. Surely all this musical fitness would be for naught if the songwriting didn’t progress as much as it has here though, and street cred is duly owed to the Archspire crew for proving to tentative fence-sitters everywhere that they have the chops to become a benchmark band. Their musical martial arts are as testing as ever, but as they build gravity defying crescendos and calculated dénouements that neatly surmise each audial ass-kicking one track at a time, getting swept up in the grandiosity of their newfound knack for compositional intricacy becomes irresistible.

Nonetheless, all this starry-eyed showmanship could very well end up leaving a somewhat purposeless and hackneyed impression were it not for Oli Peters. Being very likely the only vocalist in death metal that could ever hope to keep pace with the rest of the band, his trademarked brand of multi-syllabic superhumanly fast death rap is one of the most unique voices in the industry. The man literally - for lack of a better word - spits out vitriolic screams like a demented rapper and quite frankly rivals some of the quickest rhymesayers in hip-hop in the process. We’re not talking tripe schemes of flexing verbosity here either. Oli essentially recites cerebral short stories at the speed of sound, locking his voice into the rapid movements of the instruments as if he were an extension of their logarithmic architecture. Sure, you can argue that he’s always been ahead of the curve as far as tech death vocalists are concerned, but this time around his work is dialed-in to a point of insanity that really needs to be heard to be believed. His performance is genuinely flabbergasting even at first glance, but it likely won't reveal it’s lasting charm until you’ve been on a few dates with the album, by which point moments like the chorus on “Remote Tumor Seeker” or the schizophrenic scattershot of “Calamus Will Animate” begin to worm their way into your subconscious mind.

Thirty minutes is all it takes when you travel at this velocity, and despite its short length, Relentless Mutation manages to pack a discography worth of mind blowing moments into its tight knit clusterbomb of sheer technical prowess. This is an album that’s perpetually over-the-top, but nonetheless remains well poised thanks to a virtuosic performance on all ends that unifies in a molecularly perfect fashion. Playing as true unit, each member seems ceaselessly aware of the whole picture – something that has launched them into the territory of death metal legends – and has graced them with the ability to craft something no other band could. With their third full-length proper, Archspire have finally put all the pieces together, and have taken massive strides forward in terms of both ambition and execution as they continue to carve an identity completely their own. Simply put, this is the Archspire album weary enthusiasts have been waiting for.

(Originally published on