Tech Death Thursday: Underwater Weedlies


Deep space and the deep sea have a few things in common; they’re both dark, horrifying, mysterious, and perfect mediums for swirly purple shit. This week we’re diving deep with Sleepless Empire and Atlantis Chronicles.

First for some news:

  • Indonesian quintet Auticed has a new album out, but all I can find to share with you is this teaser. I’m not even sure how to buy it (and trust me, I would if I could), as their label’s website is a bit… bare. Maybe someday we’ll get to hear the full thing, but for now we’ll have to make do with two and a half minutes of sweet First Fragment-style neoclassical tech.
  • Red Dawn also has a new album out, though it doesn’t appear to be about the communist takeover of the United States in the 1980’s. It does, however, sound pretty sweet; you can check out a song at HBIH and pick it up here if it tickles your pickle.
  • Not enough gutturals for you? No worries; Internal Suffering have your back. You can check out the title track from their upcoming Cyclonic Void of Power right here, out June 24th.
  • Unmerciful, featuring a couple former members of Origin, have announced their new album for July 22nd on Unique Leader. Check out the full press release for the track listing and artwork, and give their debut a listen to catch yourself up.

Sleepless Empire are one of those bands whose “tech death” label is a bit dubious, but in this case, I doubt all but the staunchest of genre purists are really going to care. Their music is certainly much slower and more methodical than most other bands in the scene, but it’s just so damn cool. It’s very rare to hear a synth do anything but provide some string or choral accompaniment to tech death tunes, but on Aquatic Descent, it’s an active force. It rips through leads and complex riffs alongside the guitar as readily as it gives the album its icy atmosphere.

Of course, it’s not all about the keys (or MIDI programming…or whatever they used). The riff is truly front and center here, with most everybody driving it forth (the bass, sadly, is pretty low in the overall mix). The vocals have a rough bark to them that should please fans of Rivers of Nihil, and the guitar work is excellent. Whether they’re playing menacing open arpeggios, burning through blistering scale runs, or hanging back and pounding out a simple chugging riff, it’s always totally on point.

There’s a lot going on in Aquatic Descent, and that’s a good thing. Though the album is nearly an hour long, I never once felt bored during its running time, which is an accomplishment in and of itself. Moreover, it’s fairly unique in the tech death landscape. The closest parallels I can really draw are to Alustrium and Archaic Decapitator, and even those aren’t really close matches. Sleepless Empire have a good thing going here, and I look forward to seeing where they take it. Don’t sleep on this one.

I had been looking forward to Barton’s Odyssey for some time when it finally dropped back in March. However, the lack of songs they had posted online made me hesitant to feature them here. On top of that, Angry Metal Guy, one of a small handful of outlets whose opinions I value almost as highly as the Toilet’s (almost), scored the album at a painful 1.5/5. Needless to say, I was a bit discouraged from seeking it out on my own. But lo and behold, it showed up on Bandcamp a few days ago, so I braced myself and sat down for a dedicated listen.

I found myself hooked almost immediately. After a short expository narration, “The Odysseus” bursts forth with dueling guitars and majestic sweeps before launching into an intense up-tempo riff. Its melodies are incredibly catchy, but unpredictable; the song shifted in ways that I didn’t expect, keeping me on my toes and holding my attention. My expectations now completely shattered, I settled myself in and let myself get swept away in the experience.

Barton’s Odyssey is what Ovid’s Withering‘s Scryers of the Ibis would sound like if you stripped away all but the slightest traces of deathcore. It’s similarly cinematic in its presentation- though the story isn’t quite as epic in scope, using the real-world Otis Barton as inspiration- but with more fluid song structure and a greater use of melody. Each song is quite distinct from the other as well; ideas are rarely recycled and all tie back to a central theme, allowing the music to flourish and while remaining focused, it keeps the journey feeling fresh and exciting.

And it really does feel like a journey; Odyssey is excellently paced, maintaining the momentum built in “The Odysseus” through the course of its duration. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with this album in spite of my initial expectations, and I can certainly see myself revisiting it multiple times in the future. Atlantis Chronicles have delivered an album that’s a lot of fun and an enjoyable listen, and in the end, that’s all I really ask for from a tech death album.

Sleepless Empire and Atlantis Chronicles can both be found at the Bandcamp links above and at their respective Facebook pages. If you like what you heard, swing by and leave them a hearty “glub glub” from the Toilet. Until next week,

Stay Tech

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  • I’ll definitely give the new Atlantis Chronicles a shot, their last one didn’t do anything at all for me.

  • So… I’m curious to know. Does anyone actually enjoy that Atlantis Chronicles production?

    • Dubs

      Honestly, it doesn’t bother me, but production rarely ever does. I just look at it as another aesthetic choice and don’t get hung up on it.

      • Yeah, I get hung up on that aspect big time.

      • Joaquin Stick

        I can’t hear anything particularly disagreeable about it. Sounds like above average tech-death.

      • Mother Shabubu

        I forgot who said it, might have been Based Colin Marston, but mixing metal is pretty difficult. All the instruments are fighting for space.

        I would guess a lot of producers/mixers will try to trigger up bass drums so they sound louder and cut through the other instruments a bit more.

          • Mother Shabubu

            That bass drum…so that’s what a thousand monkeys at a thousand typewriters sounds like.

            I’m guessing this is older (early 90’s), so I’ll cut it some slack.

          • Haha, yeah I love me some Krisun but that drum sound completely wrecks this album into oblivion.

          • Mother Shabubu

            It’s amazing how if the drums sound bad, it ruins the whole thing. I never noticed that with any other instruments, with the exception of Korn’s shitty bass sound. Maybe it’s because we’re drummers?

            I think the Stewart Copeland method works best. Standard size toms and using higher pitched drums to crack through the wall of guitars and bass is the way to go.

          • Stewart Copeland’s drum sound on Ghost in the Machine is one of my all time favorite drum mixes. Perfection!

          • The Tetrachord of Archytas
          • BACH!!!!!!!!

            Tick tick tick tick tick drum roll fill tick tick tick.

            That’s “Ageless Venomous” in a nutshell. Hopefully one day they’ll either redo the CD completely, or at least get the drumming mixed right.

        • Edward/Breegrodamus™

          Marston is a prolific genius. It’s actually somewhat absurd.

      • Cowboy Dick

        Id saddle up in to ride your posse anytime cowboy. I reckon.

    • I’m not a fan but I can overlook it and just listen to the music, which, unfortunately, mostly just sounds like Veil of Maya to me.

      • I always felt like the production of Veil of Maya was atrocious. They would be so much better if they had someone able to mix. Or, maybe they just really suck. lol

        • Vault Dweller

          No waaaaaay, Okubo is awesome. Common Man’s Collapse and Eclipse (produced by Mansoor, iirc?) are awesome. Id and Matriarch are pretty ‘meh.’ Not such a big fan of the new lead singer, even if I like his lyrical themes a bit better.

          • The music is good, don’t get me wrong ( I own all the LP’s), but the production is sub-sub par. Just my take

          • Vault Dweller

            I suppose this is where I confess to knowing absolutely nothing about production beyond ‘I don’t like it when shit be very fuzzy, yo.’

            So, y’know, what I have to say on the topic has no value to anyone whatsoever 😉

          • lol we both got our share of being pretentious in, either way.

          • Lacertilian

            I remember enjoying [id] more than Eclipse.
            Didn’t listen to the latest one (or two?) though.

          • Vault Dweller

            Just one (Matriarch).

            Eclipse has ‘The Glass Slide’ though!

    • Sounds pdecent to me. The whole mix level is almost perfect.

    • Mother Shabubu

      You don’t like constant sound of clicking and a tepid, sampled sounding snare?

    • I’m digging the song when I clicked play, but holy hell those drums sounds like EDM beats.

    • Shrimp in a Pizza Box

      I… actually do. Only problem I have with it is the snare really. Didn’t really expect to like it when I read Link’s comparison to EDM down below, maybe I just hate good drum production.

    • Spear

      I’m with Dubs on this one. It’s not that I enjoy it, but more that I find it inoffensive.

  • I wish I could get into that new Internal Suffering but something about it just puts me off. Also, I have no idea what Auticed’s name means but I can’t picture a non-offensive pronunciation.

    • Dubs

      Ha, I was thinking the same thing.

    • Chaotic Matrix was one of my favorites years back. Awakening Of The Rebel was a huge disappointment for me though. Rutan fucked that album up with his over-polished production in my opinion (Once again with production). New shit sounds decent to me, although, I haven’t been excited about this style of brutal death metal for quite a while. Might give this album a shot.

      • Oh yeah, Rutan is definitely one of those dudes I consider just about unlistenable as far as production. He just doesn’t do it for me.

      • Count_Breznak

        The production on chaotic matrix is fucking perfect. It was the first deathmetal album where I found the “brutal” prefix to be justified.

    • Count_Breznak

      Im on the fence. Better (=less sterile clicky) produced than Rebel, but on the other hand the song doesn’t really makes me want to run people through with a freighttrain.

  • And fuck yes! New Unmerciful material is rad news!!! James King is a fucking beast of a drummer.

    • Well fuck… It’s John Lonstreth on the new one 🙁

      • This is the second time Lonstreth has taken over for James King now.

      • Edward/Breegrodamus™

        Well, fuck.

      • BobLoblaw

        And Jeremy Turner is playing bass now.

        • What!?! Damn, this really bums me out. That original line-up was perfection.

          • BobLoblaw

            I believe on their first full length Clint and Jeremy played both guitars and bass, looks like they got a permanent second guitarist.

  • Celtic Frosty
  • Digging that Red Dawn. I listened to Atlantis chronicles earlier in the year and it didn’t do things for me.

  • Señor Jefe El Rosa

    Digging the artwork for those two albums. I’ll have to give then a listen. Thanks Mr. Spear man

    • I like the Atlantis Chronicle one. Sorry xXJoeThrashnkillXx 🙁

  • BACH!!!!!!!!

    Really digging the Sleepless Empire and those Dimmu Borgir synths/keydly weedlies.

  • So far, I like the melodic elements of Atlantis Chronicles but those drum sounds are obnoxious.

    Sleepless Empire music isn’t bad, but I’m not feeling it. Also, the guy in the middle of the photo shoot looks like the goth kid in South Park, jajajaja.

    I think Unmerciful sounds the cooler.

    Thanks, señor Spear.

  • wee
  • BACH!!!!!!!!
  • I am not entirely sure how I ended up on this video…but… here we go.


    • Joaquin Stick

      Haken!!!! I wish music videos weren’t a thing anymore, but this was amusing to watch I guess. Cheezy as fukkk.

      • I feel dirty having watched the video, but, the track is waaay different (in a good way).

        • Joaquin Stick

          I enjoyed the album quite a bit. In my review a few months ago I said it is not quite The Mountain, but solid. I stand by that still.

          • I remember seeing the name, but I have not listened to them yet. I am going to rectify that error immediately.

          • this may be hyperbolic, but i don’t see them topping The Mountain.

          • Joaquin Stick

            More like a pun than hyperbolic.

        • BACH!!!!!!!!

          The video looks like something Kraftwerk would do.

    • BACH!!!!!!!!

      GAH!!!!!! One of the worst songs of the year so far. There’s a couple of good, very short parts, but holy fucking Godzilla barfing in Betty White’s dirty diaper, the song overall is fucking horrid. They sound like a prog version of a tiki bar band.

      • RJA

        thanks for saying all the mean things that I don’t have to say now.

      • more beer

        In the words of KSOFM. “Gay”!

        • BACH!!!!!!!!

          Kinda wondered what happened to him.

          • more beer

            I don’t know. He has been gone and come back in the past.

    • CyberneticOrganism

      More like Earthflush amiright bro *high 5*

    • More like Earthrules amirite bro *john 5*

  • Waynecro

    Thanks, Spear! Auticed and Red Dawn sound pretty killer, and I played the first Unmerciful album quite a bit. I jam Barton’s Odyssey quite often as well. Great stuff!