Soreption - Engineering the Void (Unique Leader)

Brutality, technicality, living in hideous harmony...
Release Date: 
18 Feb 2014 (All day)

Now this is what I needed to hear. While it's easy to get bogged down in what is the new newness in metal, sometimes it's great to just get pummeled by some double-bass, chug-a-rific, melodic goodness to get me back in lizard-brain mode. And on their second album, Engineering the Void, Swedish tech-deathers Soreption have mercifully, uh, corpsified their sound to suit this urge.

There is a definite progression from Soreption's 2010 debut, Deterioration of Minds (Ninetone Records), toward a heavier sound. That album laid out a sound that was so groove-laden, and I'll say it, devoid of bite, that it really didn't feel like death metal that much at all. Well, thankfully, it seems the boys have done some hard thinking about what it is they want to convey, and they seem to have landed on a really satisfying balance of groove and brutality. Their songs are, in the context of the often esoteric palette of tech-death, eminently listenable without being simplistic. Low-end, stop-start chugs, no doubt influenced by the likes of Meshuggah, anchor the band's forays into spacier, solo-driven materials. Fleet-of-foot, melodic fretwork by Anton Svedin is deployed either to throw some mindfuck charge of crackling electricity into the mix, or else to bridge between passages. It's soloing with a purpose. Dissonant bass chords ring out throughout the album, and in fact it's nice to hear the bass performance placed so prominently in the mix. And Fredrik Söderberg's vocals are sufficiently gruff and harsh to match the instrumental landscape.

Beyond its component parts, however, what is ultimately so refreshing about this album is the band's ability to write cohesive songs rather than simply piecing things together riff by riff. Don't get me wrong, that approach can work, too, but there is a compelling sense of purpose to each of these tracks that manages to unite the different elements at work. Utopia is a sleeper of a track, stomping around a 4/4 time signature that in itself is a bit of an anomaly on this album. Overall, this is a very strong album. The band's mission is further aided by precision playing and production that is clean without being austere. And yes, some of the "sinister atmosphere" synth passages could be removed and I wouldn't miss them a mite -- the conclusion of Breaking the Great Narcissist ignores some of this band's greatest strengths by pursuing such shiny things. But, at a slim run-time of just over thirty-four minutes, the album is a lesson in economical songwriting driven by really solid riffs and dynamics -- packing a satisfying punch without dragging on just for the sake of it.