The Lucid Collective may have made Archspire‘s career, but Relentless Mutation is the album that will make their legacy. Three years ago, Archspire‘s second record dropped, followed by the mandible of many a tech death fan. Just when we thought the late 2000s tech death sound generated by the Sumerian/Unique Leader cohort was finally on its way out, here was an album that took the style and sprinted away with it, not even pausing at the finish line to let your ears catch up. It was concise, brutal, and spectacularly tight, setting new standards of both performance and writing, simultaneously catchy and indulgent. I would have been quite pleased to see Relentless Mutation recap the whole thing.

But that’s not what happened. Archspire‘s sound has continued to evolve, and Relentless Mutation, while unmistakably of the same mark as The Lucid Collective, has far-flung ambitions; namely, it has gone neoclassical. That may sound like nothing new, especially in a world where a new Necrophagist album went from being a hope to a joke to a really, really tired joke long ago, but the execution here is something else. Counterpoint has always been a big part of Archspire‘s sound, and it’s now more prominent than ever, with the bass frequently slipping in and out of step with the guitars as Dean Lamb’s melodies choose increasingly unconventional paths. “Remote Tumor Seeker” is a great introduction to this agility, with contrasting riffs packed in right next to each other even as they experiment with dynamic variation and vertical counterpoint.

In contrast with the angular and dissonant riffing that’s du jour in technical death metal, Archspire have packed this album with agile melodies that proceed stepwise or through obvious arpeggios, yet never seem to follow exactly where the ear would take them. “Relentless Mutation” packs in the most standard tech leads, stretching up and down scales, but ends with cut-time churning and a beautiful isolated bass melody. Following that, “The Mimic Well” takes the album’s longest excursion out into neoclassical territory, dropping out drums and vocals entirely for a three-part counterpoint between the guitars and bass before returning to full force with a drawn -out, harmonized lead.

The Archspire mainstays are still here, of course. Spencer Prewett’s drumming remains exemplary, and his wide ranging-patterns and liberal use of fleeting snare and cymbal blasts make for a performance almost as entertaining as the one coming from the guitars. Oli Peters’ vocals are not as upfront as they were on The Lucid Collective, but it makes room for more contrast within the songs, and he’s as fast as ever, playing the role of a death metal auctioneer. But more so than before, the guitar pyrotechnics seem to be occurring on top of their rhythmic background rather than within it. Relentless Mutation collects rhythm in a few pitches and cascades melody over them however it chooses, in contrast with Archspire‘s previous work, where melodies were often as fragmented as anything else going on. This can lead to a much choppier sound overall, but it’s something that the band have obviously noticed and embraced, as the introduction to “Calamus Will Animate” makes clear.

This album has a lot more going on, but considering its length and replayability, I think Relentless Mutation will greatly benefit someone who gives it a few careful listens back-to-back. There have been few times when, after the racing leads of “A Dark Horizontal” seem to fling open every crystalline doorway, I haven’t felt compelled to run the whole album over again. At just half an hour long, Relentless Mutation is even snappier than the last album, and despite all of its head-spinning writing, it’s also something you can just sit back and headbang to.

If you’ve ever wondered what would happen if The Human Abstract went tech-death, wonder no longer. The neoclassical flair and intelligent writing of Relentless Mutation make it the strongest effort in the “traditional” tech death genre in a long time, and it progresses both the style and the band themselves more than I had ever expected. Archspire are a force to be reckoned with and have clearly established themselves at the forefront of the genre with bands like Beyond Creation and Revocation. But beyond their competency, it’s the innovation of the band’s sound that’s sure to keep Relentless Mutation spinning for years to come.


Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Season of Mist
Websites: archspire.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/archspire
Releases Worldwide: September 22nd, 2017

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  • Angelus

    This album is so technical, that even my IT guy recommended it to me.

  • JWG

    You had me at “Archspire”

    That was an audacious opening statement, but I believe it completely.

  • Nice writeup and for me I’m looking forward to digging into this album and all the “fast groove” they bring forth. These guys just make you wanna bounce around….by far one of the catchiest most fun tech bands out there. Spencer Prewett is out there blasting your face off and the guitar players are shredding balls, but you’re so right, you can bang your head right along most of the time.

  • Mad Gone Jarek

    Fuck yeah :D

  • VikingSchism

    Only coming into metal properly about a year ago, this was the first I’d heard of this band, and just the embedded track is prompting me to go and look at the rest of their discography

    • Diego Molero

      I haven’t heard the debut for some reason, but The Lucid Collective is totally worth it, definitely check that out.

  • Great track, but these crazy 128th notes on kick (or whatever that is) are a bit distracting. I wonder if they are actually played, or maybe it’s some studio trick. Anybody knows?
    Anyway, thanks for the interesting review. It seems like Archspire will finally release an album which will stay with me a little longer.

    • ssorg

      Seconded! is that even humanly possible? When I was listening I thought to myself “I don’t give a shit if thats a drum machine, it rips!”

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      I don’t know how they did it, but it kind of sounds like it could be done with a güiro. It’s either that or a drum machine…
      Either way it’s not very hard or very MEtal.

      http://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/bd8fd2600504879795dc7753bf2f0c8f836995624905d01b0e73e6e72590b3f4.jpg

      • Exactly what I hear too…

      • PLB

        Seconding the guiro sound. Even youtubed some guiro videos to make sure I had the right sound.

        • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

          And it does!

      • Apple Tree

        it doesn’t seem metal, that i agree with, but i think it really suits the music. sambra briza didn’t sound metal, but it suited atheist. i don’t think the “not metal” thing should really matter

    • Hongcouver

      Used to watch them rehearse in Vancouver. No studio tricks,Spencer is simply an amazing drummer.

      • Chad

        Yeah I remember seeing these guys when they very first started out playing small gigs in Van , stoked for them for making it big and being awesome.

  • The Unicorn

    I am very impressed with this release. Its like The Faceless conceived an illegitimate love child with BrainDrill, while Within The Ruins was watching from the corner of the room. Excellent release, excellent review, and I concur with 4.0.

    • Thatguy

      I’m glad to see you back Sir Unicorn.

      • The Unicorn

        Mr. Thatguy, the pleasure is all mine. Cheers, good sir.

    • Robert Cochran

      From the Unicorn shall I listen.

  • Jaime VG

    One of the few bands that manage to make something ridiculously technical catchy and fun. Excellent songwriting, transitions and song structures.

    I´ve been reading a bit about the lyrics, seemed interesting and connected to the previous release.

  • Zach Ward

    Haven’t liked anything from these guys before. Will see if this flips a switch.

  • Anarchist

    Got to see them live in Montreal a couple years back when they were opening for Aborted and Fit for an Autopsy. They completely stole the show away. Lucid Collective has always been one of my favourite metal albums, and the singles they’d released had me excited for this in a big way.

    And as always, the lyrics are well written and intriguing. They’re so eerily gothic, and from what I’ve put together of the released singles, the album looks to be a concept album with several links back to Lucid Collective? I’m going to have a lot of fun delving into all those lyrical intricacies for sure.

    • ssorg

      Just realized they’re opening for Origin in a month at my local (St. Vitus). Buying tix as we speak!

      • Name’s Dalton

        Damn

  • Here’s Johnny

    this is next level, never defy Seasons of Mist for thy know their shit.

  • Diego Molero

    I can’t recall a band so heavy and yet so fun. The Lucid Collective is a permanent on my rotation ever since I heard it, and this seems just as good if not better.

    Great review as always, Kronos.

    P.S: that artwork is sick!

    • Jacob Campbell

      Gorod is, and they are also better in every conceivable way. This is good, but it’s no A Maze Of Recycled Creeds. Sorry, Canada.

      • Diego Molero

        Shit, you’re totally right. Gorod IS better than Archspire. Although in terms of funness, I think Archspire wins by a hair.
        Anyway, both great bands.

  • ssorg

    Need to check out full album first, but it seems to be a very listenable DR5. Clean, crisp, nothing clipped, well mixed.

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    I find the cover repulsive in a strange way, something not even most Slam covers can achieve.

    • Rolderathis

      The stretched eye socket is the part that freaks me out tbh

    • Matthew

      Eliran Kantor is by far the most talented visual artist in metal right now imo. Everything he does is flawless. He was also responsible for the new Incantation album cover.

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        Top notch artwork, certainly.

    • basenjibrian

      I’m so hyper-repelled by “eye” stuff that I can’t even make myselgf wear contacts.

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        In my case it’s not just the eye thing, I find the whole thing unsettling but I can’t put my finger on the reason why.
        (See what I did there? You mentioned the eye thing, I replied with “putting my finger on it”. Didn’t I just make you quease? Clever, huh?)
        ;)

    • [not a Dr]

      I, at first, misread that as “Repentless Mutation”. I thought that was what was left after Potato Jesus ripped his own face off.

    • SpeedDart

      Repulsive in a clever way if you ask me. When I first saw it I was grossed out, yet intrigued. For Slam metal album covers I’m just flat out repulsed. Amazing album cover, amazing album.

  • Planex

    I’ve been waiting for this one, pumped to hear it after reading this review.

  • Brian Hudson

    I love this band, and can’t wait to listen to the full album.

  • Master of Muppets

    In Kronos we trust. Well written, and praise from tastes I generally agree with always warrants exploration into otherwise avoided sonic territories for this Muppet, nice to have it once again pan out in my favor. While not 100% unpredictable, this is certainly unfuckwithable. Strong work all in all, thanks for being you.

    • Kronos

      Thanks, man!

  • Rob

    Finally! I’ve had Involuntary Doppelgänger on repeat for weeks now. Off to pick up the whole album now

    • lrn2swim

      Murmuration almost made me pass out on the first listen.

    • SpeedDart

      Remote Tumor Seeker is amazing too ;)

  • Deathmachine

    I love this, it’ll be on steady rotation for quite awhile. I saw them live twice and they crushed it, 100% precision.

  • herrschobel

    hu ? what ? is ? this ? meh…..cooky monster metal…

    • GardensTale

      Cookie monster on a speed pill the size of an American cookie

      • [not a Dr]

        Speed-pill chips cookies?

  • Viktor Svensson

    After giving this a spin and revisiting The Lucid Collective after that, I would definitely claim that Relentless Mutation is miles beyond TLC.

    I never really got into TLC, even after 5-6 spins. I really liked their debut, but I always found that there was something on that record missing on TLC. I guess the song were in general a bit catchier. TLC was an impressive, blisteringly fast record but the songs never really stuck with me, save for the intro to “Kairos Chamber” and a few other sections. I was never a fan of how bass-light the production was (and I stand by that), and I really appreciate that they decided to give this record a tad more low-end.

    I’m also torn about Spencer Prewett. Don’t get me wrong, the guy is ridiculously talented, but holy macaroni the amount of blast beats and snare rolls and whatnot really starts to wear me down after a while. This is even in the quieter moments. I recall a video with a drummer playing a blast-beat on top of “Come Together” to prove a point. Now it’s of course not that extreme, but I doubt the effectiveness of the drum parts at times.

    Small rant over. Relentless Mutation is great. Go enjoy.

  • Xenonn

    This sounds to me like Oracles (Fleshgod Apocalypse) meets Origin. I love it. I almost expected a 4.5 score after reading that review, but I guess after Pyyrhon Kronos doesn’t have any more points to give.

    • Kronos

      That’s a pretty apt description.

  • Jrod1983

    I love this band, and I love this album. The performances are superb, and the length is perfect for this style of metal.

  • Obvious guy

    Revocation isn’t tech death though….

    • SpeedDart

      Uh…………………………………

  • AndySynn

    I also enjoyed this album.

    End transmission.

  • Baltech

    I’m usually not the biggest tech-death fan but this thing is quite engaging. Well craftet wankery with a purpose.

    • SpeedDart

      Try Beyond Creation and Obscura too.

  • Levly

    Hahaha, death metal auctioneer, very well put :).
    I have to spin it a few more times but yes, this record rules. A very good follow-up to Fleshgod Apocalypse’s Oracle ;).

  • Leonmed

    Did not care for debut but TLC was…Wow. So glad we have another winner.

  • I love seeing band’s finally reach their potential. This album is so awesome. Love that 30 min run-time too! Great review!

  • Hammersmith

    This album is dope.

    I love the beginning of Calamus Will Animate. It sounds like a death metal typewriter. Fuckin’ “Murderous She Wrote”

    • 12tonehead

      DM submachine gun.

  • Metal and Hockey

    I really like the music but the vocals sound like death metal rapping. I’ll take the new Gigan

    • Kronos

      That’s the goal. Oli Peters apparently taught himself to do this vocal style by binging Tech N9ne albums.

      • 12tonehead

        And he developped a unique and amazing style

        • Kronos

          Somebody should get Tech N9ne to put Oli on his next compilation song.

      • Metal and Hockey

        It’s different that’s for sure. Don’t know that it’s a style I like to hear when listening to death metal though but again the music is great.

      • welyyt

        Have you heard the new Gigan though?

      • basstard

        Not something I would consider “cool”..

  • SoLeftISeeRight

    Loving this album. The bar has been raised.

  • Mollusc

    I think Archspire, Beyond Creation and (dare I say it) Obscura albums from 2011 go together well. The Wife labelled the above ‘stressful’ whilst we were trying to some holiday packing this morning (that’s not a euphemism).

    • SpeedDart

      I’d reckon those are the best technical death metal bands of the 2000s. Maybe its because they’re my favorite bands of all time though…

  • Serjien

    I hit the purchase confirmation button before the embedded song ended!

  • Dagoth_RAC

    With technical death metal’s long time obsession with speed and precision, I am surprised it took this long to have a singer who wants to give the guitarists and drummers a run for their money.

  • Chad

    ‘established themselves at the forefront of the genre with bands like Beyond Creation and Revocation’

    Revocation ?? Maybe it’s just me but I’ve always thought of Revocation as a Thrash band. Heavy Thrash , but Thrash nonetheless.

  • GrumpDumpus
  • Despite the techy nature, it’s not the wall-of-sound stuff that quickly fatigues the ear. They have a great sense of space and let the music breathe, which is refreshing. To me, the vocals are a special kind of silly but the music is too interesting to ignore this band.

  • Javier McDrifter

    Much better than TLC, but not entirely convinced yet by this band

  • Phil Daly

    I’ve tried, but nope. I’ve warmed to tech death in recent years, but this just feels like the product of an arms race that’s spun out of control. It almost feels like I’m listening to code execute. I get why folks like it, but it’s a pass for me.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    I think this is being slightly over rated here.
    I’d be knocking half a point off for the borderline unacceptable nostril hair and gun finger pointing in the band photo.
    Also while I like the embedded song the drums sound plastic and its a bit detracting… Likely I’ll still enjoy this.

  • Tofu muncher

    This is really good to Vektor’s really great.

  • IndignantN00b

    Nice review Kronos. I’ve been pumped for this all year and it surpasses my expectations. If tech death is a pissing contest- and it is, and that’s why we like it- this album is clearly landing further out than anyone else in 2017. Great work gents.

  • Alex

    This album is the swanginest tatties

  • basstard

    What is up with those kick drums? They sound funny.

  • h_f_m

    Wow.

  • mark solod

    I can’t praise enough this band. My mind is blown away. Thy really stand out from their peers. What a talent.
    And I’m not talking about their virtuosity or speed, which is obviously impressive, but about their musicianship and melody-guided sensibility and song righting. All disguised under the insanity of their style. Therefore, if you lack in musical discernment/intuition you just might miss out on one of the greatest sources of musical orgasms.
    What aFucking Talent .

  • Nukenado

    Silky smooth tech death.

  • Heath

    ROTM!

  • Sharp-Blunt Boy

    This is an absolute beast of an album. Reminds me – my reaction to each play – of The Haruspex. Grin inducing, exciting and innovative brootality.

    These guys are in the pocket.

  • The Unicorn

    A month later and I am still slamming brain cells to this. Necrophagist missed the boat to spearhead the resurgence of mind-bending tech-death. Thank goodness for Archspire..

  • Frost15

    I remember this album did not do much for me when it was released, but now that I’ve given it a few more spins I must say it definitely rocks! It’s technical and it’s got a neclassical vibe in many moments. Deserved AOTM