Review Summary: A more than viable alternative to sumeriancore.
Happily we're entering the phase where the sorry genre of deathcore has come to be defined enough that it starts to freely mingle with other genres, even its forbear death metal, so hybrids like 80% death 20% core are not uncommon these days. Deathcore also seems to naturally fit math metal well, which gave rise to the advent of sumeriancore bands. Those, however, are still rather comparatively lazy songwriters and the flag bands of the genre are nothing to write home about. 2013's failure of Born of Osiris to produce a good album only exacerbates this problem.
But luckily fans of modern, intelligent deathcore have other choices, like The Schoenberg Automaton. Their 2013 effort, Vela, is their first full length album, and it seems not to have made a big splash where it should have. No wonder - deathcore is a genre all about being simple, straightforward and easy to digest. And this album is anything but.
Progressive deathcore doesn't sound good to your first typical bro who just wants to have some junz while on a bro-out. And most bands that label themselves as progressive deathcore in actuality play something that only superficially looks progressive. Vela is altogether different, this IS progressive, and as much as it gets. Chugs, while present, barely make up a fourth of the songs' playtime (and that might be a generous estimate) - just about the correct amount to make them enjoyable. The hardcore influences are more prevalent in forms more traditional to post-hardcore, like hardcore screams, shrieks, haunted shouting and dissonant melodic chords. But even these elements are rather scarce in the mix.
There are many sounds one can compare Vela to. The vocals and melodic/acoustic parts (of which there's plenty) remind a lot of The Ocean with their slight dissonance and contemplative melancholy. The tech death parts bring The Faceless to mind, while the ambient parts are very much like Meshuggah and Fallujah (vide Stopping God Midsentence). This album sounds spacey but smooth and entirely avoids the gimmickiness and tackiness of Born of Osiris and to a lesser extent, Veil of Maya. The song structures are entirely adventurous, there is no use in trying to predict what will follow, which is a true hallmark of progressive bands.
Overall, though, The Schoenberg Automaton remain on the less melodic side of things (with the exception of "The Worm Engine" with its mellow acoustic buildup), nor do they dabble in symphony, so no uplifting or cheesy choruses will be found on Vela. The music achieves its worth with its unpredictability, diversity and seeming disjointedness, but actual ingenuity. There is no immediate catchiness, which may turn off some, but reward others. Be that as it may, this effort is up there with the more ambitious deathcore bands and above.
For fans of: Animosity, The Red Chord, Vildhjarta, Born of Osiris, The Ocean, Meshuggah, The Faceless.