Tech Death Thursday: Karmacipher


Say hello to your new dissonant death metal overlords.

Your weekly tech support:

  • Teramobil has a new album coming out, and they’re streaming it in full at their Bandcamp page. The musicians involved have some impressive credentials, featuring Dominic Lepointe of Augury and Mathieu Bérubé and Alexandre Dupras of Unhuman, as well as guest spots from Luc Lemay and Antoine Baril. Check it out if you’re in the mood for some mind-bending instrumental metal.
  • This has been a good year for brutal death metal, and the new Ossuary Anex album keeps that hot streak going. Check out Mutilation Through Prayer right here.
  • If you’re looking for something a little more deathy, Gutted has a new song out from their upcoming album Martyr Creation, out December 20th via Xtreem Music. The soloing reminds me of Origin in how it sounds like it’s on the verge of flying off the rails completely, so I’m looking forward to seeing where this goes.
  • Melodic tech death outfit Eye of Horus has a new EP up for streaming on Spotify. Check out Obsidian right here.
  • Astringency has released a gruesome new song from their upcoming album, Sanguinarium. Listen to “Of Adoration and Effervescence” for some sweet guitar work.

I find myself listening to more and more dissonant music as time goes on for both the challenge of the experience and the natural increase in the volume of releases. This has been a banner year for it too, with new albums from the holy trinity of GorgutsUlcerate, and Deathspell Omega, not to mention some brilliant debuts from SetentiaSunless, and a bevy of other bands too numerous to list out. Now Hong Kong-based Karmacipher have tossed their hats in the ring and are aiming for the top. With Necroracle, they have a good shot at it.

A common complaint directed at bands of this sort is that while they are impressive from a composition standpoint, they lack discernible riffs. While I would contend that that is part of the draw of the music, the riff is the lifeblood of many metalheads, and so it’s understandable that one might be put off by their absence. If you are one such metalhead, then worry not; Necroracle has riffs in abundance. They take a fairly similar approach to writing as Setentia in that regard; while dissonance is still at the heart of the music, it’s utilized in a more palatable manner. Don’t get me wrong- this doesn’t follow the typical pop verse-chorus song structure, but it uses a more grounded approach than the gross-chords-all-the-time method of a lot of other bands. Take the title track for example: it opens with a pummeling blast-and-tremolo riff accentuated by a short 2nd chord at the end of each phrase, which in turn works that riff directly into the arpeggio that follows it.

It’s this balancing act that really makes the album what it is. “Obsolescence” best exemplifies this, going to each extreme in equal measure and meeting them both in the middle. For every hideous chord, there’s a monstrous blast of muscular death metal that cuts through the haze. It gives the listener a solid foundation to return to amidst musical ponderings that could otherwise feel both mentally and emotionally suffocating. Dissonant music can be almost painfully bleak and depressing at times; while some of us thrive on that, it can be relieving to explore a more base, controllable urge like aggression.

The production on Necroracle is excellent as well, helping to bring out the nuances of the performance. The strings all have a hint of earthy grit to them that’s audible even in the airier parts of the music, and they retain their punch on accented notes. Tampering with the drums sounds like it was fairly minimal, which is all the more impressive given the speed and complexity of the percussion parts. The album sounds good in every respect, easy to listen to in spite of the dark material.

Necroracle is a standout in a year of standouts. The musicianship is exceptional and the songwriting is tight, mindful of both the traditional and experimental angles. Playing both those fields equally, it serves well as both a guiding light for newcomers trying to break into the dense fog of the subgenre and for the more seasoned listeners looking for a reprieve from pure skronk. Karmacipher aimed for the top, and they just might have reached it.

If you like what you heard today (and I know you did), you can follow Karmacipher on Facebook for updates and all that good social media stuff. Necroracle is out now and is available on Bandcamp. That’s all for this time, folks, so until next week,

Stay Tech

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  • W.

    Spear-O my hero. I plan on listening to this after my students take their exam. Maybe I’ll play it for them during to increase the crushing.

    • Spear

      I can say with utmost certainty that you will dig this mightily.

    • The Tetrachord of Archytas

      I’d recommend throwing on some nice music that features Just Intonation first. Once their ears adjust to that even tonal western music will sound dissonant. Then you can truly crush them with the extreme

  • Joaquin Stick

    You’ve Speared™ me again! This is a very good find. Awesome production, especially for a debut. I’ll be keeping an eye on these guys for sure.

    • Kevin Nash’s Jackknife

      Bah gawd Spear, this man has a family!

      • CyberneticOrganism


        • Kevin Nash’s Jackknife

          I tore my quad while that happened!

      • KyleJMcBride

        Dood, Rev Horton Heat & Unknown Hinson are in your town tonight. If it’s not sold out(Cambridge was), you should go. If you like straight up Rock N Roll, you’re not gonna get better than this.

        • Kevin Nash’s Jackknife

          I’m in Florida.

  • Dumpster Lung

    Nice work, as always. I’m definitely digging these guys. I wasn’t really in the mood for it, but decided I wanted to hear them anyway, and I’m enjoying it even in spite of feeling like I was in the mood for something completely different.

    Good point about it feeling fairly riffy, too. The riff is definitely my lifeblood. Not that I can’t enjoy things that don’t take that approach, but that’s what really does it for me. This has a great mix of atmosphere, technicality, but also still some memorable melodies.

    • Dumpster Lung

      Now, for some reason I’m listening to Nile, and I think I might see how much of their discography I can make it through at work today. I’ve got the hankering to maybe see if I can find a copy of At the Gate of Sethu.

  • I got about halfway through the new Ulcerate the other day and dug it. It’s been a while since I jumped on the melodic dissonance of them, DSO, or Gorguts. I’ve added this to the list–75d4d44ef90238963b1da1d585dc9a8b.jpg

    • It’s good to have you, RT. There’s a YUGE market for universe stretchy pants in the dissonant world

  • Señor Jefe El Rosa

    Ah, Thursday! The most well suited day for Tech Death!

  • How do you do this, Spearrow? I’m not a dissonanthead, but I find myself quite enjoying this, too! Good band, another good discovery.

  • AeonsOvChaos

    “the riff is the lifeblood of many metalheads” RIGHT

    “Necroracle has riffs in abundance.” TRUE

    “For every hideous chord, there’s a monstrous blast of muscular death
    metal that cuts through the haze. It gives the listener a solid
    foundation to return to amidst musical ponderings that could otherwise
    feel both mentally and emotionally suffocating. Dissonant music can be
    almost painfully bleak and depressing at times; while some of us thrive
    on that, it can be relieving to explore a more base, controllable urge
    like aggression.” THIS EXPLANATION IS PERFECT.

    Tech Death is not my favorite genre but Ulcerate, Gorguts and Deathspell Omega has always been on top with their dissonant and suffocating parts and I might add Karmacipher, great review, thank you Spear, I’m enjoying this album a lot, seems that you are a real wizard. Favorite track: Necroracle.

    • It’s too bad the “Tech Death” label comes with the connotation of weedles and deedles. For many bands it holds true, but strip away the connotation (something that I highly recommend humanity start doing, with all concepts) and you have death metal with a focus on the technique. That’s all!

      • AeonsOvChaos

        You are right, well, I’m not an etilist about these bands or at least I don’t think I am, straight Death Metal is my thing but when I listen to music I search for bands who holds dear and true their proposal, I don’t care about labels whn music has a “soul”

      • I like to divide it up in my head. Tech death is like the bands that do the super high production and spacey solos and widdlies. Technical death metal is things like ulcerate, Chthe’ilist, zealotry, seventia etc

    • Howard Dean
      • AeonsOvChaos

        The great art of the riff, exposed through raw savagery, a sort of a magnetic force, yeah, I like productions that are not perfect, this intensifies the proposal without losing strenght in the impact that could give you, there are some great Black Metal bands out there and then Darkthrone, I think this one could be a perfect example:

  • Louis Quatorze

    Wow, listening to this album instantly made me grin for half an hour. This totally my cup of tea and after I was a bit disapointed of the new Ulcerate album this is more then welcome. Thanks for the recommendation.

  • Waynecro

    Outstanding work as always, Spear! I really like the melodic stuff in that new Astringency song. I stumbled upon that Karmacipher album just the other day, and I was going to ask you if you’d heard it yet if you didn’t mention it today. Clearly, no one beats Spear and the TovH’s Tech Death Thursday to the tech-death punch.

  • Max

    This is pretty good.

    • W.


      • Max


        This is pretty good.

  • Jonny

    I’ve spun this so much since reading this article. So good.