Archspire - The Lucid Collective [Technical Death Metal]
With a grand total of 21 strings in the band (8 string guitar, 7 string guitar and 6 string fretless bass), this album is the winner for the ultimate wankfest in technical death metal for this year.
Let me put this straight out, this is the fastest album I have heard this year. It's fast (the vocalist even raps out his growls!), brutal and has some of the best guitar solos I've heard in a while. Hell, the bassist is faster than 90% of lead guitarists out there. The vocals have some sick moments, namely in the opening song (such a powerful chorus) and in 'Fathom Infinite Depth', which he opens with a rap. The guitars are literally everywhere, and the drums need only to be able to keep up with the rest of the band (he doesn't really do much else).
However, for most of the record, the instrumental showmanship is quite detached from the rest of the songs. I won't say it for all of them, but there are times when the solo sections could be interchangeable with those from other songs. At such high speeds, some songs do start to sound alike. It's good that the album is relatively short, but it does not have a very high replay value because the musicians' technical prowess completely overshadow their songwriting capabilities. In short, it's an album you remember only for its solos and not its songs.
That's not to say it's a bad album, its perfect for instances when I feel my coffee isn't enough. It's exhilarating as fuck.
As always, the production is quite horrendous to me. At a paltry DR4, it's terribly compressed. It's a clean sound overall, but I hear too much guitar and not enough rhythm and bass. While the guitarists are undeniably good, Jaron Good is one of the best bassists the genre has had to offer and it's disappointing to hear his sounds with so much treble and little resonance. The drums also suffer from this thin, hollow sound. I understand the theme of transcendence is the reason for this sound but it does not strike me as particularly effective (the black metal dudes achieved with much muddier production). Some of the songs are obvious filler here, with only some powerful guitar noodling to save it.
It's a great album for technical prowess, but the band has yet to catch lightning in a bottle with their songs.