I really have a love/hate relationship with technical death metal bands. On the one hand, I’m always appreciative and awestruck by the level of musicianship some of these guys have reached. Sometimes, the technical skill of some of these dudes leads me to feel there has to be some sort of studio trickery involved because it feels as though some of the things produced don’t feel humanly possible (especially true of the drums). However, seeing a band in a live setting can separate the posers from the true technicians. Now, the other side of the coin on these types of band is that sometimes the songwriting and organic feel of the albums is sometimes lost due to the focus on pushing the technical boundaries ever further. At the far end of the spectrum, the albums can become sterile exercises of wankery that simply become unlistenable or memorable in any sense. Finding the balance of good songwriting and technical flash is a delicate one. I’ve beaten this dead horse many a time on this blog. I guess it’s an issue for me because I’ll find bands that are impressive at first glance due to their technical skill, but then after listening to the album a few times through, it ends up that beyond the flash, there is nothing of much substance. I’ve been burned by taking chances of so many bands in this subgenre that I’ve gotten to be a bit jaded on checking out any new bands.
Well, I’m glad I didn’t miss the boat with Alustrium. For the reasons outline above, I nearly didn’t buy this album. I was impressed with the few clips I found online, but I was really worried that these guys would fall in amongst the rabble of other technical death metal bands that leave me feeling empty after a few listens. Well, those concerns, thankfully, did not come to fruition this time around. Alustrium has found that nice balance of fusing the technical and the creative that results in one of the true pleasant surprises of 2021. This album reminds me quite a bit of early day Between the Buried and Me. It is just brimming with confidence and the different segues and detours the band takes throughout the course of this album really make it an interesting and engaging album. This is an album that should be set up as an example going forward of how to create an album in this subgenre. Cheers all around!
4 flip flops out of 5