Illogicist  // The Unconsciousness of Living
Rating: 2.5/5.0 —But with the best of intentions
Label: WillowTip | Hammerheart
Websites: Bandcamp | myspace.com/illogicist | facebook.com/illogicist
Release Dates: US: 11.15.2011 | EU: 2012.01.09

Illogicist - The Unconsciousness of LivingI first became acquainted with Illogicist back in 2007, at the height of the tech-death explosion, via a record called The Insight Eye. What intrigued me about these Italian virtuosos at the time was that, unlike most of the scene they were lumped in with, they leaned less towards “tech” and way more towards “death.” The band was clearly influenced by early 90s progressive death metal like Atheist and late-era Death, a.k.a. shit that I really like. And yet, despite all the potential, the album seemed to be missing something.

Fast forward to 2011, and The Unconsciousness of Living. Illogicist has not altered their basic approach one bit since The Insight Eye, despite a 4-year gap between albums and about 900 drummers. I guess that’s a good thing, given that most of their tech-death classmates have either released some half-assed albums (how’s it going, Arsis?) or disappeared completely (remember Necrophagist?). Illogicist may not have raised the bar, but they certainly haven’t lowered it either.

The other thing I noticed here is the production, which could be described as “guitars, right up your ass, all the time.” This would normally be a good thing, except when it’s at the expense of the drums and the vocals. Drummer Alessandro Tinti seems to be doing some cool shit behind the kit, it would be nice if I could hear him. The mix doesn’t do vocalist Luca Minieri any favors either; he sounds submerged throughout the whole album. Emilio Dattolo’s basslines cut through just fine though, and his playing is impressive (and straight out of Tampa, circa 1990).

And then there’s the guitars. Minieri and co-guitarist Diego Ambrosi unleash a flood of odd time signatures, guitar harmonies, and, for lack of a better term, weird technical shit. There are surprisingly few guitar solos, with the emphasis mostly being on riffs. It is to their credit that they focus on substance instead of flashiness. Sometimes the harmonized parts start to sound alike after a while, and I wish there were more straight-up furious riffs in here (although those crop up more during the album’s second half.)

If there is any weak point with this record, it would be Minieri’s vocals. It’s not that he’s a bad singer, because he’s not. But this album is so riff-centric that even having vocals at all seems like an afterthought. This band may take a lot of cues from Chuck Schuldiner and co., but Evil Chuck knew how to cut through the tech bullshit with a particularly vicious lyric when necessary (my personal favorite is “yet you don’t know your own sexuality,” daaaaaaamn!). Minieri has yet to connect in a human way like that, and as a result the album feels a little bit faceless.

And I guess that’s why The Unconsciousness of Living leaves me a bit unsatisfied, just as The Insight Eye did. For a band whose manifesto is, to transpose into music a particular vision of reality and its associated emotions, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of emotion going on here. Music with this kind of complexity and depth needs lyrics to match, and those lyrics need to be delivered with conviction.

The guys in Illogicist are influenced by music I love, and they have so much talent it’s fucking ridiculous. I genuinely want to love this band, to tell my friends how great they are, and to smash my face into things while listening to their music. And I’m hoping that next time around, they can find that missing link that will make me do those things. For the time being, The Unconsciousness of Living is a rock-solid mass of riffs and technicality, and if that’s your thing, you can’t really go wrong here.