Review Summary: Modern deathcore from a galaxy far, far away...
For my money, Aristeia’s EP in 2011 was a landmark release for the genre; Immaculately blending slabs of crushing progressive deathcore with bright cosmic melodies and djenty rhythms, this LA band quickly got my attention. Now after five long years Aristeia are back with a self-titled album that finally fulfills the promise of that first EP after their minor sophomore slump in 2013 with the Demoralization Of The Luminary record.
While that album felt a bit rushed, that is not the case this time around. There is definitely more meat on the bone here, and the songs feel tighter and more confident. While in the past the band would oscillate between the heavy sections and warm celestial leads, the switch-ups feel even more immediate, deftly weaving back-and-forth to make the songs feel more dynamic and less segmented.
If there’s one thing to fault this album for, it’s the distinct lack of evolution. Aristeia have indisputably mastered this brand of metal, that much is clear, but the songs do have a tendency to blend together a bit. The only thing different this time is the occasional use of clean vocals on a couple tracks, but before your blood runs cold and you click 'x', they are actually tastefully and very sparingly implemented to add texture rather than trying to shoe-horn some unwanted over-polished chorus hooks.
The band’s instrumental tracks have always been of particular interest such as the breathtaking Green Dream, and this album does not disappoint in that regard; Defaced Reality is nothing short of a prog metal masterpiece while the djenty Purple Dream is guaranteed to get your head moving and your hands air-guitaring. The superb level of musicianship is on full display on these tracks with a barrage of seamless transitions, mood changes, and gorgeous spacey guitar-work. It’s enough to make you feel like you’re free-falling through the black of space to your doom, past distant nebulas and supernovas while banging your head all the way.
Aristeia have really kicked off the year with a bang, and have reignited the passion I had for them back in 2011. Although I hope in the future they make more of an effort to expand their sound a bit, this album cements their place as underground heavyweights in the prog-deathcore genre for years to come.