Deviant Process – Nurture Review

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: technical death metal can be a fickle mistress. For a genre so overflowing with talent, much of the actual music can come across as rather soulless, and despite all the intricacies, a lot of releases appear surprisingly formulaic. In short, I’ve been burned before. But then I look to recent releases from bands like Alustrium, Symbolik, and Allegaeon; releases that serve as a potent reminder that not all is lost, and that when the tech-death hits, it hits hard. It was with this sunny outlook that I plucked Nurture, the latest release from Deviant Process, from the promo pit. On their second full-length, this Quebec-based quartet produced a hefty slab of technical death metal with some welcome flourishes. Add to that the fact that label mates Carnation and Archspire are responsible for some of my favorite DM released over the past few years, and I found myself going into this review with guarded optimism.

Nurture is a big, bombastic album, overloaded with squealing solos, percussive decadence and raging bass wizardry, all tossed into a blender and poured, bubbling and steaming, into your unsuspecting ear holes. In short, it’s a technical death metal album with doses of Cynic, Obscura and other of that ilk. You won’t find many choruses or hooks to speak of, but that tends to be the name of the game when it comes to this joyfully excessive subgenre. And if that is indeed the mark of an honest-to-goodness tech-death album, Deviant Process have their style of choice down to a frenetic science. They’re spectacular musicians, and their skill is readily (some may say dizzyingly) apparent on all eight tracks. But like so many other technical DM releases that came before it, Nurture falls into many of the same traps.

With so much going on and with so many notes crammed into each and every second, it’s aggravating just how unmemorable this album is (despite what the verbose promo materials claim). Certain sections of certain songs pack a wallop (I’m specifically partial to Philippe Cimon’s knuckle-snapping bass work), but on the whole, much of the album goes by in a continuous blur of undeniably impressive but ultimately forgettable tech-death wizardry. Which is a shame considering how close Deviant Process get to hitting the mark. While it’s hard to find a solid riff to connect with (or one that sticks around for longer than 15 seconds), there are some late-album appearances that hint at the greatness this band could one day achieve. Beginning on fifth track “Syrtis Magna” and carrying on through penultimate song “The Blessings of Annihilation Infinite,” Deviant Process begin showing more restraint, leaning more into beautiful guitar interludes, which provide a welcome respite and a powerful juxtaposition between slower, plaintive plucking and string-bending aggression. To be fair, the willingness to slow things down is apparent at the outset, during 7-minute opener “In Worship, In Blood,” but the band doesn’t really hit their stride in the dichotomy department until the back half of the album.

If only these deviants had taken time to process their abilities beyond the expected tech-death bluster, there would be a very different score at the bottom of this review. But how do I know they truly have the chops? There are two facts that prove my bold assertion: their 2016 album Paroxysm does an undeniably better job of melding musicianship with pleasing riffs, and the final song on their current release (a cover of “Cybervoid” by Obliveon) is further proof Deviant Process have everything it takes to produce memorable, riffy tunes without skimping on any of the technical prowess.

As usual, I found Nurture difficult to score. There isn’t a single bad performance to be found. What’s more, there are plenty of examples across the album where the band make the bold decision to shirk the weighty expectations of their chosen genre by choosing emotive simplicity over cold complexity, and that’s to be commended. Unfortunately, this willingness shows up too late in the album, and can’t quite overtake the pervasive tech-death pandemonium. But I’m nothing if not idealistic, and I can see myself eagerly returning to the next Deviant Process release, armed only with a sturdy neck brace and annoyingly high hopes.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 12 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Seasons of Mist
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: October 15th, 2021

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