There’s one thing about this band. Well, actually there’s several very important things about this band, and we’ll get to all of them shortly. But the first thing you should know is that from the previous album, 2014’s Engineering the Void, there is only one member that hasn’t changed, and that’s Tony Westermark – the drummer.
The entire line up is different – guitars, vocals, bass – everything. And that is simply astonishing when you hear the song writing and overall musicality on this album. The first single, “King of Undisputed Nonsense” made me sit on the edge of my seat. I hadn’t been this excited about a technical death metal album in quite a long time.
And it’s good to know that the album is jam packed – quite literally – to the brim with an unbelievably wide range of guitar riffs. That’s the first thing that will catch you on this album, is the incredible guitar work by Mikael Almgren. And it won’t let you go. The guitars grab you with both hands, tight, around your neck, and they just don’t want to let go. I haven’t heard such a dazzling variety of guitar work that is just so damn interesting. While being technical to the point where it’ll make you want to quit playing your instrument, the damn thing also grooves. What the fuck? Seriously, there are some incredible groove sections on this album. But they are composed and written so incredibly well that you don’t mind them at all. They actually add more to these riffs. While intense as can be, they’re actually pretty bouncy bastards, but like I mentioned before, these guys pull it off amazingly well. And to think that Mikael plays guitars as well as bass on this album, sharing bass duties with Kim Lantto. What an unstoppable beast.
The rest of the band – vocalist Fredrik Söderberg and drummer Tony Westermark, both perform like absolute animals as well. Clean, tight as can be drumming, and ferocious vocals, with enough power and conviction behind them that they don’t sound like your every day death growls. These are actually excellent, a perfect fit for the vibe of this album. It’s not drowned out in gutturals because that would just confuse things. The mix and mastering on this is also top notch – everything a modern death metal album like this should sound like. Many come close, but most don’t attain a sound as good as this. Crystal clean, it’s actually one of the best mixing jobs I have heard in a long time. All instruments can be heard loud and clear, and it’s basically up to you to choose what to focus on. The guitars being especially punchy and clear, while retaining a very fair bit of gain. For me – while all components contribute to the whole – it has got to be the guitars.
It’s been a very long time coming since a death metal guitarist has been able to capture my attention so closely. I’m old enough to have been around listening to this genre for nearly 30 years now, so I’ve heard it all. I’ve heard the incredibly brutal ones. The incredibly groovy ones. The incredibly technical ones. But I hadn’t heard all three of those combined this well together before. Just check out the intro to “Children of the Automaton – it’s absolutely incredible. And the album is packed with these, riffs upon riffs upon riffs. It’s relentless, but it’s also incredibly fun to listen to because you never know what’s coming next. I don’t know how many times I’ve listened to this album now, but it still manages to surprise the hell out of me on a daily basis. That right there, is a huge accomplishment, and a testament to how much music these guys actually cramped into this black hole density motherfucker.
In my opinion, the crowning jewel of modern death metal. The song writing is second to none, the drumming is superb, and the guitar playing is just out of this world good. “Virulent Well” features Matt from Cryptopsy, and “The Entity” features Travis from Cattle Decapitation as well, who both put in stellar performances for two very interesting songs. You owe it to yourself to hear this album. While their previous effort “Engineering the Void” was also excellent, this just kicks things up to a whole new level entirely. I salute the four Swedish gentlemen who wrote and recorded this madness.