After the turn of the 21st century, technical death metal was losing something. Actually, that's not true at all. More recent bands were pushing the envelope on technicality than ever had ever been done, going faster, playing more intricately, and generally adding complexity to the genre of Death Metal as a whole. But something was not changing: Many bands failed to find a voice and differentiate themselves from the rest of the pack, even when their playing was superior. In the early 90s, Bands like Atheist, Death, and Cynic used proficient musicianship, but also created a distinct sound for themselves. One could always hear a song from death... But today, one might be hard pressed to distinguish between some of the more technical and brutal bands that permeate the modern death metal realm.
Now, let us enter Spawn of Possession. Many are inclined to label this band a 'Brutal Death Metal' outfit. And though the music of SoP is indeed brutal music in comparison to other virtuosic death metal groups, they fail to enter the realm (and often creative rut) of bands like disgorge, deeds of flesh, or gorgasm that are considered brutal death metal (not knocking those bands, they're probably the better examples of a subgenre filled with lackluster quality). However, Spawn of Possesion immediately hit you with something that many modern acts in their field can't even comprehend. They set a clear vision and mood with their music. Spawn of Possession sounds.... positively... menacing, and evil. There are only a few contemporary bands that have been able to capture the malevolence and pernicious overtones that SoP evoke.. Cryptopsy would probably be one of them, and perhaps even Pig Destroyer.
Spawn of Possession combine a few elements in their guitar section that enable such powerful imagery to resonate. Firstly, the rhythm changes they employ are off the wall... Not in a fruit-loopy, chaotic sense, but in a discordant... uneasy, swiftly shifting and unsettling sense. The guitar riffs flow through the album much like the thorny vines that appear on the excellent cover artwork, not only in rhythm, but in melody. The notes jump and scatter up and down the scales, and when a solo erupts from the heart of the band, the style of the solo follows suit. Each melody is firmly set in the minor scale, not uncommon to extreme metal of course, yet manages to be written to sound repulsively fresh, and original. The deranged harmonies on the album only add to the voice of the band. Bass playing on the album, while not a particular highlight, is superb.
The vocals are also excellent, though not the best I've ever heard. They are relatively monotone, but change pace so often with the rest of the music, that they also provide an interesting aspect to the music.
My only complaint, really, are some of the spoken work intros that, in my opinion, don't add to the atmosphere or pacing of the album... And simply fail to misalign the band from other Death Metal acts that love to use foreboding, but unintentionally silly soundclips.
But of course, I love this album, and probably consider it my favorite technical death metal album of the 2000s thus far. The memorable songwriting, originality, technicality, all compel me time and time again to replay this album. It is dark and irresistible... Somehow a unhinged example of musical symmetry andl beauty.