Coexistence – Collateral Dimension Review

Technical death metal can be a fickle mistress. She can lure you away with promises of sublime virtuosity, only to bombard you with a cacophony of disjoined solos. She can entice you with the siren song of a bold sci-fi concept album, only to present you with a sub-standard Spawn of Possession clone. Despite this, there’s a lot of great tech death out there, but you have to be willing to separate the 8-string wheat from the 7-string chaff. So where does Coexistence fit in with their debut album Collateral Dimension? Do these Italian metallers have the chops required to tame the fickle mistress?

They certainly do, even if some crucial elements are lacking. We’ll get to that in a minute. First, let’s talk about what Coexistence bring to the table: unapologetic and well-crafted Atheist worship. From song titles, to their virtuosic, bass-forward sound, to the slow groove interludes that break up the more traditional tech death onslaught. Opener “Metaphysical Essence” hits fast and hard, pummeling the listener with death metal barks, blackened shrieks and a barrage of instrumentation you’ve come to expect from a genre that wallows in wonderful excess. But then the interlude hits, and you’re thankful that Coexistence listened to “Mother Man” on repeat. This reoccurs throughout Collateral Dimension, whether it’s the spacey, Cynic meets Selling England By the Pound-era Genesis interlude on third track “Eclipse”, or The Police-tinged instrumental and mid-album palate cleanser “Perception,” it’s clear Coexistence wear their influences on their sleeve. But perhaps the most effective weapon in their arsenal is bassist Christian Luconi, whose finger work would make a caffeinated court reporter weep. While everyone turns in a stellar performance, Luconi is the true stand-out, adding a jazzy groove to heavy sections and a dizzying depth to the aforementioned interludes.

So what’s wrong? If the members of Coexistence are firing on all cylinders, established a template based on a highly influential tech death act, and kept the music compelling, what could make this album less that stellar? The answer is both simple and counterintuitive: save for a few moments, very little on Collateral Dimension is actually memorable. While the performances are impressive and varied, it’s surprisingly difficult to discern one track from another. Imagine, if you will, the scene from 2001: A Space Odyssey, as our hero’s spaceship careens through the technicolor void. The vortex is awe-inspiring, holding your attention as evolving patterns and dazzling colors blow past at warp speed. But later, could you recall a specific shade of pink? Could you point out exactly when one pattern replaced another? That’s the terminal, reoccurring problem here – even if Collateral Dimension impresses, it doesn’t leave an actual impression. You may not be bored, but you also don’t find yourself humming a passage or nodding to a phantom riff afterward. While Coexistence successfully aped Atheist’s intricate sci-fi sound, they failed to take another, more important lesson to heart: a dazzling display of technical prowess means nothing if the listener can’t distinguish between songs.

It’s all the more frustrating then, that Collateral Dimension sounds incredible. Each instrument is audible in the mix, with Luconi’s bass, as previously mentioned (read: slavishly cooed), front and center. Too often, even with many tech death acts, the bass is relegated to second (or third) string – the booming, red-headed stepchild of the band. Here, Luconi’s bass is an ill-tempered red-head with a grudge against his stepfather – and boy can he wail. No one turns in a bad performance though, with drummer Alessandro Formichi’s double bass assault and restrained, cymbal-laden turn during slower sections of particular note.

Coexistence’s newest album is a difficult one to rate. One one hand, this Italian foursome (the band, not a Silvio Berlusconi bunga bunga party) have produced an enjoyable slab of intricate and impressive sci-fi-tinged technical death metal. On the other, the charm of the talent is marred by how truly indistinguishable one track is from the other, and thus, how forgettable the album is as a whole. I am convinced Coexistence has what it takes to improve, it just isn’t on display here. Now if you’ll excuse me, Unquestionable Presence isn’t going to go listen to itself.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Transcending Obscurity Records
Website: |
Releases Worldwide: October 23, 2020

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