Archspire - The Lucid Collective
Released: May 2014
From: Vancouver (BC), Canada
Listen while you read by clicking the link to
Archspire's bandcamp page here
1) Lucid Collective Somnambulation
2) Scream Feeding
3) Plague of AM
4) Fathom Infinite Depth
5) Join Us Beyond
6) Seven Crowns and the Oblivion Chain
7) Kairos Chamber (instrumental)
8) Spontaneous Generation
Oli Peters - Vocals
Jaron Evil - Bass, Vocals
Tobi Morelli - Guitar
Dean Lamb - Guitar
Spencer Prewett - Drums
Now I’ll admit I’m a little bit of a late comer to loving death metal. When I was younger honestly I completely fucking hated it. See what you need to know about me is I can’t play a guitar (though someone special has promised to teach me someday) nor drums or any other instrument but what I can do is sing, terribly, horribly like burn your ears out of your head bad but even so I do it (when I’m alone with no one in earshot of course). I’ve always been a fan of vocalists basically, if I don’t like the vocals no matter how good the music is I wouldn’t listen. But as I’ve gotten older my taste has shifted and I listen to much more extreme music than I did when I was a teenager when supposedly you’re supposed to listen to this stuff to piss off your parents. Well sorry, I have an appreciation for great art so with that said, I’m selective on what I like.
Before you dive deep into The Lucid Collective notice their label up there. For the last few years I know when I see a release from Season of Mist I’m probably going to like it, not always but often. They seem to have a knack for finding excellence that is just off the beaten path. Sure they could play it safe and just give you a straight up tech-death band but instead they bring you Vancouver’s Archspire who combine some progginess and grind into the mix making it far more interesting to listen to (as I have several times now).
The Lucid Collective gets started at a blistering pace with the somewhat title track Lucid Collective Somnambulation. Right from the start we’re introduced to the blistering fast riffage by the shredding tandem of Tobi Morelli and Dean Lamb showing off the technical prowess hence the “tech” part of “tech-death”. Then comes the “death” part with rhythmically barked vocals by main vocalist Oli Peters contrasted against the growls of Bassist Jaron Evil (one can only assume that’s not his given name) which brings us to the final piece that holds it all together the extremely technical, fast drumming of Spencer Prewett. Prewett’s dual uzi bass blasts sound nothing like most, once again setting Archspireapart from the crowd. Lucid Collective Somnambulation is a wickedly fast opening track wetting your mouth for more.
Though the songs all flow nicely and seamlessly from one to the next each has it’s own distinct rhythmic pace so that unlike other solely death or grind albums I get bored by track three or four because one song does not really distinguish itself from the rest, Archspire does not suffer this problem so we, the listeners, don’t have to suffer either. Third track, Plague of AM, has a very “soft” proggy guitar solo that breaks up the blistering track nicely without sounding out of place. I don’t know which guitarist is supplying that solo but thanks to both terrific axemen, Morelli & Lamb.
Then we come to my favorite track of the album, the slowed down mid-tempo (for tech-death) fourth song, Fathom Infinite Depth. This is possibly the most proggy song of the album and certainly the slowest but fret not it’s still plenty fast but gives you a moment to catch your breath while still getting your head bobbing up and down like a fucking maniac. This song fooled me appearing to end, I thought it did sadly and began looking at the next track – oops, when you get a very cool vocal blast that sounds like it’s shouted up to you from the deepest, darkest pit of hell though Archspire are more sci-fi themed so it’s probably supposed to be coming out of a black hole or something. It really matters not because it’s fucking awesome.
Next comes the “single” that was my introduction to Archspire. Back in maybe March one of my favorite websites for metal news, Metal Injection, debuted the sixth track off The Lucid Collective, Seven Crowns and the Oblivion Chain. Listening to it in context of the full album I can see why. ‘Seven Crowns is the perfect showcase of Archspire’s sound. It has all the prog, death and grind wrapped in one nice, neat little package of eardrum blasting glory. If I were picking a song to release from this album I’d like to think I would have made the same choice as it is the perfect showcase of all Archspireoffer the listener.
Next is the extremely proggy riffing contrasted against pummeling riffage of guitar duo Morelli & Lamb. The contrasting styles make even the instrumental Kairos Chamber interesting through just over 3 minutes of dueling riffage.
This brings us to the album closer Spontaneous Generation which sends you out in a blaze of glory which all at once harkens back to the opening track while leaving you hungry to hear more from the band that have just destroyed your neck and eardrums for the past 35 minutes or so. It acts as a perfect closer since all it really leaves you with is the dire hunger to hear more which is exactly what it is supposed to do.
By the end this album has so much to offer, you swear it had to have been longer than it is but just like Reign In Blood, I mentioned earlier it just means you start it all over again. Of course when I had my first copy of Reign In Blood it was a cassette (Google it kids) so you just flipped that bastard over to start again. The Lucid Collective is excellent start to finish and even after half a dozen listens so far I keep hearing little things I missed the first time through and I definitely fucking love that.
To be honest there really is nothing I can say to oppose any opinion that states this as an impressive chunk of technical death.
To be blunt The Lucid Collective is outstanding and a release that deserves a place in any metalhead's collection. A gathering that may contain other releases in the same vein, even some that they thought of as being a tad experimental or thought of as being before “their time”.
Several genre styles are showcased in this release, they all meld seamlessly together to, as Feind has mentioned before, keep the listener keen and interested throughout.
During my inaugural listen my mind wandered, as it so often does, to other bands that play a style that is somewhat similar, so that others may be able to relate preceeding a listen of this. The acts that came to mind were somewhat varied: Spawn of Possession, Atheist, Obscura and Death to name but a few. I would hasten to say even Morbid Angel and Nile as well, snippets of several tracks have, dare I say, an ancient vibe and rhythm that Nile are renowned for. It is the vocal style of Oli Peters that at times reminds me of David Vincent and his vocal attributes found within earlier Morbid Angel releases (using Blessed Are The Sick as an example).
The pummeling tattoos perpetrated by 'sticksman' Spencer Prewett very often defy belief, just how many lightening quick appendages does he use? What I wouldn't give to be able to smack hollow objects with sticks with that same ferocity and level of timing.
The fretboard mastery displayed by both Tobi Morelli and Dean Lamb amazes the senses and never leaves a nasty, “I've heard that section before note by note, in another song”, taste in your mouth.
I agree whole heartedly with Feind in his observation that no one song sounds the same as another, each has its own unique structure and composition. The pacing and melodies rarely become predictable as they pounce into, tear through and violate the space between one's ears with deviation ranging from brutal grindcore and cyclonic technical riffing death grazing upon thrash boundaries the musicianship also dives headlong into a genre known as progressive. It seems unlikely then that this style would fit so well within a number of the tracks here as traits of this genre include experimental and “soft” (to quote my Scribblin' buddy Feind) guitar melodies, but have no fear there is no detrimental result whatsoever, in fact exactly the opposite.
A stunning genre array to grace any release made even more impressive in fact it is pulled off successfully and without confusion, I could name a handful of releases, that in my opinion, are bogged down with composition technicalities that produce only a distraction and loss of 'flow' that leads only to boredom and a fingers tentative hovering over the skip button!
It is my opinion that some later era Death songs are guilty of this (sorry, let the flow of Haters from the purist faction say their peace, again this is only my opinion!)
The production's mix is very clean and showcases both the sound and variation of styles amazingly well. Suffice it to say I bow to Archspire as this is a formidable release that is more than worthy of my limited vocabulary's praise.
SPIN IT IN THE PIT!!!