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Experimental and Impressive - 91%

andreipianoman, December 5th, 2018

Beyond Creation is currently one of the most important names in the progressive and technical death metal genre and they have recently released their latest full-length titled Algorithm, after a four year break. It is my first time listening to a full album from this band and although I have listened to them before, there were quite a lot of surprises for me in here. First of all, it is a lot less aggressive then I was expecting. Now don't get me wrong, it is proper tech death and brings a lot of energy but it's also very experimental and the best thing is that it maintains a certain fluidity throughout the entire record in such a way that despite all the screams, blast beats and shredding (and there is a lot of that), at the end, the album feels rather melodic and easy to listen to as opposed to the very intense brain-damage that I was expecting. It is really engaging and for such a technical album, surprisingly easy to enjoy, even at the first spin.

Now there's no denying that all the members of this band are insanely skilled at playing their instruments. If you know the band, I don't even have to tell you about it and if you don't, one song is enough to get you sold on that. The album is packed with incredibly fast and very versatile guitar riffs from the kinds based on simplicity and down picking to some impressive, dynamic and all over the place playing that moves about all over the fret board to the extent where it can't even be referred to as a riff. The guitarists have no trouble in exploiting a large variety of styles and can easily blend the two guitars in a very balanced way, although they very rarely play the same thing. I think what's best about the guitars on "Algorithm" is not the solos, endless tapping or the melodic clean sections but simply the way they are harmonized together. But what baffles me even more is that despite all that, the guitars seem to be the most stiff instruments in this album. As ironic as it may sound, it is the drums and the bass that make the album feel so fluid and flexible. The drummer is capable of alternating between soft grooves with lots of cymbal play and ghost notes to ballistic double pedals and blast beats without ever breaking the continuity of the music and he makes even the most difficult techniques sound balanced and clear. The most amazing thing is that even when he's grinding those blast beats like crazy, he's got some sort of delicacy and control that doesn't allow the music to feel very heavy. The album isn't that impactful and you can tell by listening to it that this is the way it was intended. It feels natural and it makes sense. I also get this sensation from the production of the album and the effects used. It sounds very clean and even with the overdrive from the guitars, there isn't really much harshness or "noise" in the final mix. That allows for probably the easiest way to tell the instruments apart and be able to take in all of it at once.

But really the star of this album is the bass. There's certainly a lot of fretless bass used (although I'm not sure if it's only fretless) and that means even more fluidity. The bass playing in this album is the embodiment of the expression "all over the place" There's really no telling where it's gonna go and it most certainly defies all conventions on what this instrument's purpose is. It almost never stays on the low notes to back up the guitars and it's always on full display. While the guitars may be riffing or tapping away at a steady melody, this guy just moves about all on his own sliding and tapping on those strings with no aim for depth or power. It's actually a leading instrument and if you ever feel like the music is slightly lacking in depth, listen closely and you will notice that the bass is actually playing higher notes than the guitars. It's also got an incredibly clean sound with not a lot of gain that once again contributes at making the music fluid and controlled as opposed to really heavy and aggressive.

The vocals are probably the weakest link. It's all pretty mid range screaming with not a lot of power and doesn't really impress me that much. I really don't dislike it and it certainly doesn't make the listening experience worse but it also doesn't add much to it. Most of the times I find it easiest to just ignore it because it's really not a dominant element in here. The instrumental track "Binomial Structures" got me thinking that they might as well lose the vocals and stay instrumental and I'd enjoy it all the same.

Overall it's not album of the year or anything like that but it is undeniably a very strong and very unusual record that really stands out. Although the endless tapping, blast beats and slides can get a bit redundant, the album doesn't get stale as a result of the very cleverly placed clean guitar sections that feel pretty jazzy and change the pace and atmosphere of the music. They also have some really inspired stand-out moments that add a lot of flavor like the orchestral intro "Disenthrall", the piano interlude "À travers le temps et l'oubli" and the pretty glorious ending melodies on "Binomial Structures" and "The Afterlife". Despite the album being pretty dark, what stayed with me the most is the simply incredible musicianship, creativity and skill that the Canadian four-piece displays to make this a very enjoyable and remarkable record. Definitely a highlight in tech-death and one of the best albums this year!