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Elucidate Among The Stars Against A World of One... - 51%

Juno_A, February 21st, 2021

Considering the sub-genre descriptors assigned to The Design Abstract, Technotheism admittedly gave me lofty expectations of a furious ride through a melodic storm of insane compositions backed by a symphonic artillery, but that’s not what I heard. Instead, I hear a bunch of metal elements that apparently feel most comfortable providing melodies through the vocals or symphonies. Weirdly enough, I like the way the composition forms the melodies, and decent riffs do exist on this album, it’s just that the audible focus lies with the keyboards and vocals instead of the guitars or rhythm section, and I feel like the album suffers because of the misguided objectives.

To begin, I’m not a fan of the production. I’m actually of the opinion that a cleaner production allows for greater enjoyment of most music due to the ability to discern different elements from it, but did the sound engineer need to suppress the guitars in favor of the symphonies? No joke, the guitars take a backseat to the soaring symphonies most of the time, and whenever the rhythm guitars bust out a good riff, it sounds like someone turned it down in the mix. Admittedly, I like the melodies set forth by the symphonies, but the production keeps masking the metal elements in favor of strings and spacey elements – on a straight-up rock album, I would almost welcome intrusive production, but this album contains enough guitar talent regarding riff technicality that I’m annoyed by it instead. Why couldn’t The Design Abstract write more riffs to accompany the symphonies?

The production issues tie into my next complaint: Because the symphonic compositions have most of the focus, the rock/metal compositions suffer. Sure, the techno melody that leads into the beginning guitar riff for “Deus Est Machina” sounds cool, but it leads me to believe that the album will contain a much larger guitar presence that rarely pulls through. Seriously, the good riffs get drowned in the mix, while the repetitive or simplistic parts show up often and loudly. I make a special point of the scarcity of good riffs on the album because there’s enough good riffs here to convince me that this band could have written a good, guitar riff-focused album if they wanted to. Like, the good riffs are plentiful, but the bad elements are in such large quantities that I can’t focus on the good parts. Even the more noticeable solos, while okay, don’t help the simple parts they’re attached to.

Normally, I would claim disappointment with a record such as Technotheism, but despite my lukewarm feelings, I see potential. Yes, the symphonic elements force everything else into the background, including the riffs, but I can see this band working if they moved up the riffs in the mix, turned down the volume on those keyboards, and fixed the ratio of complex-to-simplistic parts on their next album. I want to hear the rhythm guitars get their comeuppance on the next record, and I feel like this band could pull that off. They don’t even need to get rid of the keyboard/Vocaloid/symphonic presence, just increase the presence of the good rhythm guitar riffs, and it’d be fine.