Tech Death Thursday: Karpathian Relict
Karpathian Relict put out a rad album in September that I completely forgot about. Let’s take a look at this beast and give it the attention it deserves.
First, this week’s tech support:
- The Last of Lucy just released another single and it is siqqqqqqq- lots of beefy riffs punctuated with quick jabs of dissonance. Solid as their debut was, this new album is looking to top it in every aspect. Look for Ashvatta on the 17th.
- This new Manhattan Project song, “Anathema,” is nuts. Unique clean vocals, orchestrations that actually matter, and some ridiculous Loomis-style shredding round out Keith Merrow sounding riffs for something truly glorious. Don’t skip this one; it’s a beast.
- Burial in the Sky have a rad new spacey prog jam out. If you’re a fan of Virvum (which you should be), then you’ll find a lot to like here.
- On the other hand, if you just want to bang your head to some nasty riffs, give this new Oblivion song a shot. Nothing too different, but not bad either. The Path Towards… is out on November 17th.
- Updates from Soreption are few and far between these days, but they did recently announce that they will be playing Death Fest Open Air 2018 in Germany next summer. Hopefully word of new music will be right around the corner.
- NEW BLOODSHOT DAWN. Not their most technical song ever, but damn, it’s good to hear from them again. Check out “Survival Evolved” and look for it on January 12th.
I don’t know about any of you, but I could do with something a little on the nicer side this week; what better a genre to turn to for happy and uplifting tunes than tech death? Our ray of musical sunshine today comes from Poland’s Karpathian Relict (formerly Orthodox) and their recently released sophomore effort Beyond the Over. Their music is as engaging as their album title is confusing, so let’s jump right in.
Joking aside, this is one of a small handful of tech death albums I would genuinely consider to be pretty. While the opening salvo of “Where Old Giant Spruce Grows” doesn’t belie the album’s overall bittersweet nature, the brief emergence of warm melody around the 1:30 mark gives some hints as to what lies ahead. For the next couple minutes of this first song, you’re treated to meaty head-bobbing riffs with slight touches of jazzy chromatic flair. It cuts away the distortion around three quarters of the way through, reprising and building off of the earlier melody before closing out with some more heavy riffage.
It’s in these pockets of radiance where the band truly shows what they’re capable of. Their technical skill and precision is obvious throughout the heavier moments, but these lighter parts are nuanced in ways that a lot of other bands tend to miss. The subtle bass melodies weaving through layers of chords and harmonies adds beautiful texture, and it’s all made better with great tone. The drummer also gets to show off his pocket playing, but he does it tastefully; he plays to the feel of each part of the song without overdoing it.
Everything isn’t sunshine and rainbows on Beyond the Over, however; it is still a death metal record, after all. The music becomes markedly more aggressive around the album’s halfway point, particularly with the mid tempo bruiser “Length of Twenty-Two.” While they never lose their sense of melody, the band starts bringing in tons of machinegun drumming and mind-bending guitar shredding. “Vantablack” mixes things up further with the odd flow of its opening riff, with triplets interspersed in straight 16th’s at the end of each phrase.
Lest it remain unclear, I should mention that these two aspects of their sound- the warmer major-key sections and the heavy aggressive parts- aren’t kept separate from each other. With the exception of “Length of Twenty-Two,” which ditches the happier parts entirely, both sides are integrated into every song on the album. The band transitions seamlessly between them, too, even somehow making it work with the warped chromaticism of “From the Hollow” and the lurching “Speech of Dandelion.” It’s fluid and cohesive- very important when mixing together such disparate sounds.
Even after all that, I still feel like I haven’t adequately described this album. There’s a lot to take in here, but with their slick songwriting and surprisingly catchy riffs, Karpathian Relict have made their tunes relatively easy to digest. It might be a hard sell for some with how bright certain parts get, but Beyond the Over is an album wholly worthy of your attention. Acquire it at Bandcamp, and be sure to give the band your sweet, precious Facebook likes if you enjoy it. That’s all for this week, so until next time,
(h/t to Bucwah for reminding me that this was out)
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