Review Summary: Warp 10, if you please Mr. Sulu. Take us into the sonic wormhole.
Listening to Archspire is like going on an interstellar voyage in Warp 10 with a cybernetic version of Mr. Sulu at the helm. Everything happens at breakneck speed with millimetric precision. Even technologically advanced races like the Borg have a hard time keeping up with such processing speed. "It's a new evolutionary step," some say; "It's soulless data," claim others. Truth is, since 2011's All Shall Align
, the Canadian quintet has been flooding the planet with technical death metal of singular intensity and design. While technically all crew members belong to the top of the food chain, it is undeniable that vocalist Oliver Rae Aleron's supersonic delivery stands as the band's most distinctive feature. The amount of words Oliver manages to spout per minute is only comparable to Millennium Falcon's speed on Kessel Run. It is truly something to behold. Yet despite their overwhelming technique, the guys retain the ability to craft catchy songs, even if these are of an unorthodox nature as one might expect. I never felt Archspire's music as a collage of futile techy exercises, but rather an outlet built on complex foundations. It is one of those cases where dexterity works for the benefit of music and not the other way around, as long as we’re able to look beyond the maze. 'Deathless Ringing', 'Lucid Collective Somnambulation', or 'Remote Tumour Seeker' are all examples of songs that despite their seemingly intricate structure remain fairly engaging.
Recorded between October and November 2020, Bleed the Future
was Archspire's album with the longest post-production work to date, which allowed them to optimize every little detail with the utmost thoroughness. Although longer cooling-off periods don't always lead to better results, they do guarantee a greater leeway for those subtle touch-ups that add additional value to the outcome. For a band whose formula is based primarily on its technical component, this extra factor may be of particular relevance, even more so when the work in question is flooded with such small details. At first glance, everything is as it should be - shotgun vocals, crazy sweep picking, rapid-fire arpeggios, complex tapping, warp speed blast beats, among other cutting-edge techniques, are still on the band's menu, but now blended into a slightly smoother cocktail. This greater accessibility exists on different levels, whether harmonic or rhythmic. The many mid-song interludes (where the bass takes special prominence) or the melodic leads in songs like 'Reverie on the Onyx' and 'Abandon the Linear' are examples of this greater focus on melody, while groove sections that sprout forth in 'Bleed the Future' and 'Acrid Canon' embody rhythmic three-dimensionality, thus appealing to larger audiences. I would say Bleed the Future
is the most accessible album the band has ever recorded, but not necessarily the softest. The warp speed kick-off of 'Drone Corpse Aviator', which shows why Spencer Prewett is one of the best drummers around, or the frantic 'A.U.M.', prove that despite this somewhat broader approach the band's hyperactive DNA remains untouched. The latter is even, in the guys' own words, the band's fastest song to date, for crying out loud. Thus, all these subtle mutations towards a wider spectrum have never questioned Archspire's identity, on the contrary, they have strengthened and upgraded it. And in doing so, the Canadian lads not only released their best album to date but also ended up carving a milestone for the genre.
Since its first major incursion a decade ago, Warp 10 vessel Archspire and its skilled crew have been taking us into bold new territory in a quest for the holy tech grail. An odyssey in search of full technical refinement, however utopian it may be. Bleed the Future
is thus a successful endeavor that sees the quintet pushing their limits once again, to the point where they seem to merge with the machine, much like a cybernetic organism programmed to deliver superior music at a high processing speed. By this stage, Archspire is in a league of its own. And we, as listeners and tech nerds, should get our popcorn ready, as we're about to embark on one of the most exciting journeys of 2021. Now, buckle up and listen to your captain, if you please.