Technical death metal was the darling of the death metal scene about 5 or 6 years ago, but since the ever-growing retro-death craze has begun to take over the number of quality technical death metal releases that I’ve gotten my hands on has dramatically decreased. Still, that didn’t stop the now 22 year-old Adam Lazslo from writing a bunch of pretty fucking sweet techy songs and getting himself a worldwide deal with Willowtip. Perdition of the Sublime is Sophicide‘s debut record and one can see why this record – written by someone who can’t tour to support it – is being released by a label of this quality: because it’s a truly elite technical death metal experience.
Perdition of the Sublime is a no-holds-barred, technical death metal wet dream. From the opening strains of the ripping opening track “The Art of Atrocity” one is met with a full on assault pummeling (but unfortunately replaced) drums and dissonant riffing which gives way to headbang-inducing riffing and tech geekery. This sets the pace for the whole album, which only rarely gives the listener any kind of breather. Where Sophicide succeeds most adroitly is the ability to write really technically interesting material – complete with the fret gymnastics we’ve come to expect from a scene dominated by the ghost of Necrophagist and a newly reinvigorated Spawn of Possession – but with the song writing chops of Anata; so smooth you sometimes have a hard time noticing how interesting and impressive what you’re listening to really is. It’s the combination of brutality in the riffs, drums and vocals, with the melodic work that keeps flows out in almost neo-classical flows (see the opening strain of “Blood for Honour”).
Another differentiating factor is that Lazslo is not afraid of chunky riffing á la Meshuggah or Gojira – and while it never becomes the primary focus of any one song (id est, there is no core or djent here), Perdition of the Sublime is remarkably groovy compared to its contemporaries (you’ll hear some of it above in “The Art of Atrocity” towards the end). This is not a Gorguts or Illogicist record, but instead it’s more reminiscent of Obscura‘s Cosmogenesis or Anata‘s 2004 masterpiece Under a Stone with No Inscription. I think this is best seen in the songs like “Freedom of the Mind” where the bridge is remarkably groovy in production and tone, but the rest of the song is a driving almost At The Gates kind of thrashy death feel. And this highly successful mix comes up again in “Lafayette’s Deception” and “Perdition of the Sublime” (and numerous other places). Finally, the use of acoustics in a few places offers up some impressive moments. “Within Darkness” and “Of Lust and Vengeance” have Nile-esque, faux “middle eastern” acoustic work, while “Folie Á Deux” evokes Shroud of Despondency‘s two guitar approach to acoustics, and “Blood for Honour” has a piece that sounds like it could have been straight of Blackwater Park.
So that kind of variation, plus a combination of groove and melodic riffyness, is complemented by a guitar performance in the solo department that I think deserves its own paragraph. While the songwriting is stellar, the thing that takes this record from just being well-written songs, with technical flare and crushing riffs is the excellent guitar work. It depends, of course, what you like from your guitar players, but as a fan of neo-classical work Perdition of the Sublime has what I want in spades. Lazslo’s style is on display through the record, but especially the intro work on “Dawn of a New Age,” “Age of Atrocity” and “Freedom of the Mind” stand out for being exceptionally good. The use of two guitars to do interlaced work sometimes makes the really elite guitar work seem like it’s just part of the riffing; this approach acts almost as camouflage because the guitars aren’t too far forward in the mix – and it works perfectly.
A final note: being a multi-instrumentalist is pretty tough, but Lazslo also produced and mastered this thing himself. The quality of the production is actually really pretty good, and while the drums are either replaced or just programmed, the fact that I can’t tell which speaks highly of the performance. The bass is audible even in shitty speakers – and is a force to be reckoned with when listening to it in monitors or good speakers (hell, the performance ain’t shabby either) – and the vocals, while standard fare for death metal, work perfectly in their context. And at 43 minutes, this is perfect vinyl length (hint, hint) and is the perfect length for a high octane technical death metal record. Perdition of the Sublime swings in, hits you in the face and is done just in time for you to say “I want more!” I can’t get enough of what Sophicide is doing – the combination of technicality with melodic intelligence and great songwriting should make anyone with any remote interest in technical death metal to stand in the corner with their arms crossed for joy.