Technical death metal. You know the images and sounds those three words conjure up: endless sweep arpeggios, slapped bass with only the freshest of strings, fast double-bass drumming, an album cover that utilizes colors on the cooler side of the Color Wheel (mostly hues of purple and blue) and has an alien somewhere in it, the band logo in a sharp, nigh-symmetrical font…. And for the most part, you know what to expect when someone tries to take the throne from the likes of Decapitated, Gorguts, or Necrophagist. What the majority of those bands lack, however, is staying power. Sure, you can fly through a scale like Yngwie with extra strings and no donuts [That was cruel. – Steel “Sensitivity” Druhm], but where are the fucking songs, man? Folks, meet Sweden’s Soreption, hellbent and determined to take on all challengers without needing to go djently into that good night.
Opener “Reveal the Unseen” is how you start a fucking death metal album off right. No twinkling keyboards, no atmospheric noise, and no brooding bullshit… just straight out, blast-your-face-off drumming and frantic riffing, overdriven bass, and some hellacious grizzly bear growling by Fredrik Soderberg. Anton Svedin’s lead guitar work is beyond otherworldly, especially his solo near the end, but his rhythm work is on-point as well. In fact, the entire band delivers with sewing-needle-point precision and the subtlety of a Sherman tank. The big thing though, is that after the song ends, you remember it quite vividly because it’s catchy as fuck.
And that’s what separates Engineering the Void from the majority of the pack. This is some jaw-dropping musicianship, sure, but you’ll be enjoying the songs immensely, and not just parts thereof. You’ll be going back to “I Am You” repeatedly, and not just for the amazing opening riff, bassist Rikard Persson’s groove, or Tony Westermark’s phenomenal cymbal work and super-fast bass pedaling. In fact, just about all the songs are incredible, but it’s “Breaking the Great Narcissist” that stands out the most. Many riff changes, Soderberg’s crazed screaming, jackhammer drumming, and an atmospheric keyboard part that comes out of nowhere (complete with flutes and twinkling keys), before going back to the brutality, and an ending that can only be described as catchy and pit-friendly (think Born of Osiris‘s “Open Arms to Damnation,” but infinitely better)… and it all fits nicely for the most part (more on that in a bit). Engineering the Void is also refreshingly compact for a technical death metal album, at a hair under 36 minutes. It says what it needs to say, slays, and gets the hell out before overstaying its welcome.
The production job of brothers Tommy and Christian Rehn (both of Angtoria) should be commended, as there’s a lot of crazy-busy sounds going on here, but none of it bleeds into another. Every instrument is crystal clear and audible, which is not easy with this kind of music. The only knock I can find is that this isn’t the most original of albums, and it doesn’t help that they fall to certain tropes that have been worn to death (hello, aforementioned keyboard part in “Breaking the Great Narcissist”! *waves*), but this is still very addictive stuff that you will keep coming back to time and again.
So get your air sweep-arpeggios warmed up, your arms stretched properly for some intense flailing, and be prepared to get pummeled and enthralled by Engineering the Void. Soreption is a worthy challenger to the tech-death hierarchy.