I’ll probably get in trouble for this one, but I kind of love this album. Archspire are a tech-death band from Vancouver and The Lucid Collective is their second album. Some of my readers might argue that this is too metalcore. Some might argue that it consists of too much nonsense noodling. There’s too much technical showing off and not enough real content. I can see some truth in all these viewpoints which is why I’m preempting these comments. I still love it.
There are parts that remind me a bit of Spawn of Possession and other parts that remind me of Sikth. They are definitely their own beast, though. Let’s start with what is one of my favorite aspects of this band. The vocals are great. I can take or leave almost all vocals in almost all genres of metal. This is because most vocals are just inaudible growls that seem tangentially related to what the rest of the band is doing.
On this album, Peters (the vocalist) is aware of all the nuances of what the band is doing. The vocals are seamlessly integrated into the music as an essential component. They provide real substance to the songs. Sometimes they provide rhythmic support with rapid percussive barking. Sometimes they provide depth to the sound with more sustained full singing. The timbre and style adapts to the song, and I wish more vocalists were aware that this was a viable possibility. Vocals shouldn’t feel like an afterthought.
Let’s face it. This is a technical album, and as such we should judge it from a certain disposition. We have to expect a fair amount of ridiculous guitar solos. That being said, I find the album to be far from pure technical masturbation. The moments focused on the band as a whole are plenty technical, and they have a well-crafted balance with the soloing. I can’t help but compare this album to Soreption’s. I mostly found Soreption falling into the trap of technique that I didn’t find that interesting and hence didn’t find myself revisiting that album much.
Archspire seems to pull themselves out of the standard tech-death trappings. The music underlying the technique is pretty interesting. It is constantly evolving. It balances tonally static parts with wild, almost progressive sounds. It balances tight grooves and rhythm with parts that might be called a-rhythmic. The point is that the songs change and evolve in ways that are not just artificial. They pull the listener along to keep wondering what will happen next. There aren’t the typical excessively technical parts that cause me to zone out.
The album is cleanly produced. In light of the above discussion, this means that when certain aspects are being highlighted, they are audible. This might be a turn-off for some people. It does kind of feel like you are being passed around from idea to idea rather than some old school death metal that has all aspects smashed into one muddy sound. I don’t think this is bad at all. It is just a different way of doing things.
Why do I love this? Overall, because it is technical and challenging while still having a great sense of balance and creativity. I highly recommend this to anyone into technical death metal. I kind of feel like I’m cheating this album by not going more in depth on any of the songs, but *mumble mumble* thesis excuse *mumble mumble*. I give it a 9.5/10. Here’s a sample: