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Adequate but uninspired - 60%

autothrall, October 29th, 2009

This is the sophomore album from an Alabama band who mesh melodic death and the cosmically themed black metal that might remind you of bands like Tidfall or Sirius. The mix of the album isn't quite perfect but you can at least hear everything.

The musicianship is more than adequate, in particular I enjoyed the bass of Jason Flippo (also guitars/vocals), ever playful and progressive beneath the guitars. His vocals are generally done in a black rasp but there are some doomier, groovier parts of songs ike "Forgotten but not Undreamt" which feature a cosmic clean doom style. The rhythm riffs across the album are unfortunately not so memorable, but there are some nice leads and harmonies. Across the seven tracks, there weren't any songs I truly enjoyed, but taken as a whole this isn't a bad record.

Lyrics are both cosmic and philosophical in nature, you've got your pretty Dimmu Borgir sounding three word titles like "Instinctual Human Descension" and "Arcane Stellar Firmament". That's cool though because at least some creativity was put into this aspect of the band. Now if the music could catch up and get a little catchier, we'd have a pretty promising new force in US metal.


Infinitely more tolerable - 68%

Noktorn, April 30th, 2009

It's hard for me to precisely articulate why I find this album so much more tolerable than the first Quinta Essentia release; it's substantially less obnoxious and cloying for some reason, and while still technically masturbatory to the extreme, this seems to be overall a much less pretentious release that has embraced its purpose as an elaborate and occasionally enjoyable tech demo. There's nothing particularly wrong with that sort of thing in and of itself; just when it's trying to pretend to be high art.

A lot of the more 'extreme' elements of the band's debut seem to have been excised for this, leaving a highly neoclassical breed of slightly more aggressive than typical melodic death metal. Arsis is a very easy reference point for this release; it lacks some of that band's atonality and more excessively shredding sections, generally sticking to typically melodic works, but the similarities beyond that are very clear. Clean vocals are sporadically used and the production is equally clean and vast as the first album, so I'm forced to admit that much of the improvement on this album must be a result of songwriting alone.

While inherently the same in style, 'Archetypal Transformation' feels a great deal more restrained than 'Neutrality For Defined Chaos'. While that release was infatuated with its particular breed of Jerry Bruckheimer metal, this album doesn't have quite so many sections which desperately seem to be attempting to be epic. Most of this music is based around intricate lead guitar work and soloing over rather conventional (though non-Gothenburg) melodic death riffing and a relatively deft drum performance. Vocal styles are varied though all revolving around the base of high melodic death growls: occasional forays into clean and black metal style vocals occur simply to increase the technical breadth of the work, but they're incorporated at more logical, pivotal moments rather than the seemingly random inclusions that they were on the first release.

The song structures have improved vastly, and I think that's the source of most of the improvement on this release. 'Neutrality For Defined Chaos' sounded almost wholly incoherent, all riffs and rhythms simply strung together to find an excuse for yet more soloing. This album is as lead-dominant as the first, but the song structures make much more logical sense; the rhythm guitars punch out conventional but at least rational and intelligently structured riffs and the soloing seems more melodic and narrative than it was on the first release. The overall tone is less obsessively epic and more grounded; as the band was never very good at actually creating an epic soundscape, this is for the best.

I still don't particularly like this, but I can at the very least stomach 'Archetypal Transformation'. It's listenable music, if still very uninspired and not particularly exciting, and it won't offend anyone entrenched in extreme metal. If you are particularly enamored with guitar theatrics in extreme metal (re: a Necrophagist fan), you'll probably enjoy this a great deal more than me. Anyway, if you have to pick up one album by these guys, it should certainly be this one rather than the completely intolerable last. Not bad; it's rare that you hear a band which manages to make such a vast improvement.

Quinta Essentia - Archetypal transformation - 95%

Phuling, February 18th, 2009

So, the second album by these American lads, and the follow-up to "Neutrality for defined chaos", an album I liked but didn’t love. But they’ve had a couple of years to develop and mature, which they certainly have. With "Archetypal transformation" they present a talented band with a nack for writing complex and diverse metal.

It doesn’t take more than half a second before my interest kicks in, just the opening riffing gets my attention. And before the first minute is over I’m in awe. This is so bloody rad! Black, thrash and death metal are being widely thrown about. Not a single track go by without major tempo changes, as the frantic blasting suddenly slows down into (still frantic) technicality, just to turn into a hellish break with clean vocals chilling your spine. The ferocious scream carries such a freaking raspy undertone, and when it switches into the sudden clean outbursts I get goosebumps. And I’m still just on the first track, which just switched into a mid-tempo, old school thrash guitar solo-bit…

This is nothing short of killer. I’m extremely impressed by the natural flow, no matter which direction the song takes. There are so many different aspects to the music, so many different tempos, such cool ideas, awesome vocals, wicked riffing, mind-blowing drumming… It’s like taking Belphegor, Kult Ov Azazel, Behemoth, Deicide and Impious all in one. I can’t really explain it, but with all the aspects taken into consideration this is one diverse album, that flows oh-so-naturally. I can’t but recommend this to any fan of complex, technical and brutal metal.

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