Another year, another glut of SoCal tech death coming my way. Being the world’s sole arbiter of brutality, I have to say that I’m a bit disappointed with the more traditional technical death metal scene as of late. Fallujah came along and brought a really fresh sound to a genre full of bands that couldn’t get over how great The Faceless was, and all of those bands promptly turned around and started aping both Fallujah and The Faceless. The explosion of copycat acts at every turn is hardly unique to the genre, but it’s been annoying to hear another hour of sweep picking and chuggy deathcore riffs that I can’t be bothered to give a shit about every month. Given their location and blurry cover art, I wasn’t too excited to spin the debut EP from Los Angeles-based The Replicate.
Looks were deceiving in this case, and sitting at ten and a half minutes, this is a quick dose of high-quality prog-death that you won’t want to overlook. Guitarist and band mastermind Sandesh Nagaraj dishes out some of the most sideways riffs in recent memory and his four snappy compositions here are not just impressive but infectious. “The Chainsaw of God” opens with a lopsided swirl of a riff that sounds equal parts Virus and Psycroptic, and that momentum is carried through the rest of the song, punctuated by a strange guest solo from a one William von Arx.
The other three songs are no less idiosyncratic. While the EP is short and more of a progressive death metal than technical death metal 1 release, it’s certainly not lacking in personality. “Eugenicide” is funky and mid-paced, and sounds like an Atheist song got drunk and stumbled around itself for a while before passing out. It’s the longest song here at about three and a half minutes and it only really uses two riffs, but it does so cleverly. This economy of the composition is a real feather in Nagaraj’s cap, and in a genre not just known for but nearly defined by onanistic self-indulgence.
The following two songs show the trashier (“The Saline”) and more subdued and atmospheric (“A Selfish Dream”) sides of The Replicate, and they’re tackled with the same terse energy. This EP doesn’t beat around the bush, and it’s straightforward and to-the-point construction is one of its best qualities. However, spread across three ‘guest’ vocalists, an uneventful drum performance, and four relatively disconnected songs, it serves as more of a demo tape than a complete release. I’d love to hear what Nagaraj could come up with a full band behind him, but at this point, The Replicate just isn’t developed enough to really pack a punch.
That being said, the production is passable, mastering not quite abysmal (DR7), and the writing is decidedly above average if a bit simplistic. The Replicate shows a lot of promise and A Selfish Dream is a nice little snack of an EP that gets 2017 off on the right foot. With time and development, this one-man project could be a real gem and follow in the footsteps of similar bands (Necrophagist, Sophicide) that put out killer albums in the past2.