Sxuperion – Omniscient Pulse Review

If I say the magic words “space-themed death metal,” what do you see? If you see Blood Incantation or Artificial Brain come swooping in like a half-giant on a flying motorcycle,1 push your disappointment to the back of your mind,2 because we ain’t talking about them today. These two space-dwelling behemoths have set the precedent for cosmic death metal in recent years, utilizing OSDM and tidbits of tech-death to conjure mammoth images of space’s vast emptiness, to epic and brutal results. While tech-death itself has been doing this since forever, with Decrepit Birth, Obscura, and (at one time) The Faceless leading the charge for the mechanical future among the stars, it’s fairly unique to find visceral death metal that offers the abysses between stars with surprising vacuity. So it’s space odyssey time with Sxuperion!

Sxuperion is a one-man death/black metal outfit from California whose creator is known for other Bloody Mountain Records projects like Valdur, Sxap, and Garden of Hesperides. While each adheres to a relatively predictable style of atmospheric black metal with varying degrees of death metal influence, Sxuperion seems to be his main project, reflected in the anonymous member’s moniker. Formed in 1998, and slowly releasing material in the early 2000s, it took off in 2011, having released four full-lengths, four EP’s, and a split. So what does Sxuperion sound like? Imagine if the buzzy shreds of Cleric, the emptiness of Darkspace, the mechanical tightness of Fear Factory, and the wild blackened death scorch of Azarath collided like asteroids in the celestial void, and you’d be close to describing fifth full-length Omniscient Pulse. Is it as earthmoving as its influences seem to suggest?

Short answer: no. But that doesn’t mean it’s all bad. I’m a fan of the sprawl, y’all, and when Sxuperion embraces it, some epic things can happen. Opener “Owl” and “Planet Crusher – Defeating the Holy Emperor” feature some tightly syncopated riffs repeated to a mesmerizing effect, topped off with some icy ambiance and Abyssal-esque guttural roars—it feels tight, mechanical, cold, and relentless. “Presque-Vu,” the title track, and closer “Myopian Frequency Release” center around unhinged blastbeats and downtuned tremolos that conjure black and death in equal measure, the latter embracing a sprawling soundscape that offers the best cosmic ambiance of the album. Generally, Omniscient Pulse’s stunning guitar tone recalls the Swedeath buzzsaw flavor of Entombed or Cleric, which pairs nicely with the frostbitten ambiance.

Omniscient Pulse’s greatest fault ultimately lies in its brevity. While I’m all for a short listen, it feels as though the vast majority of the thirty-six-minute runtime is not appropriately fleshed out and awkwardly uneven. Most tracks focus on a single riff with very little dynamic to spread across a respective two-and-a-half to five-minute span. With the directionless shred and awkward laser sound effects of “Death (Bussard Ramjet Malfunction),” the distracting soloing and sloppy riffs of “Betrothed Catacombs,” and the impatiently rushed interlude “A New Universe Awaits (Burning the Cloth),” it feels as though Omniscient Pulse is unfinished. Even the highlights, in spite of their promise, fall into this trap: “Planet Crusher…” is too short and features only one (albeit solid) riff, “Presque-Vu” and “Owl” are derailed by ambiance or solos being too loud and slightly off-key in the mix, and “Myopian Frequency Release,” in spite of its nearly nine minutes of content, features only about three minutes of riffs, and a six minute ambient outro. Ultimately, while points are awarded for ambition, Sxuperion’s work is condemned by sloppy and uneven songwriting.

The most positive thing I can say about Omniscient Pulse is its ambition is there. Ambient death metal is not really a thing, and the fusion of these sounds screams promise. No thanks to its paper-thin songwriting and somewhat wonky mixing, however, the excitement flies the coop faster than the Millennium Falcon on the Kessel Run. While its ambiance is lovely and the guitar tone is nice, execution feels amateurish and empty. I get that cosmic themes in metal are scrutinized more harshly, as acts like Lovecraftian Sulphur Aeon, slammy Wormed, and aforementioned extraterrestrial acts are expected to reflect the gargantuan and otherworldly quality in their sound, but Sxuperion has had decades to perfect his unique take and we’re met with this. While others depict space odysseys, Omniscient Pulse is about as expansive as a flat-earth. It’s impatient, directionless, narrow-minded, and ultimately spirals straight into the void.

Rating: 1.5/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Bloody Mountain Records | Bandcamp
Website: Too kvlt for the interwebs
Release Worldwide: June 15th, 2020

Show 2 footnotes

  1. S/O to Hagrid!
  2. S/O to Professor Quirrell!
« »