Album Review – Singularity / Place of Chains (2019)

The emotions of being wrongfully imprisoned turned into an ass-kicking hybrid of Technical Death Metal and Symphonic Black Metal by a sensational metal unity from Arizona.

Tempe, Arizona-based Technical Death Metal/Symphonic Black Metal hybrid act Singularity is back from outer space to pulverize our senses once again with the release of Places of Chains, the follow-up to their highly acclaimed 2014 self-titled debut album and their 2016 EP Void Walker. Since their formation in 2010, the band now comprised of Jack Fliegler (ToxicxEternity, Hemoptysis) on vocals and guitar, Adam King (Depraved Heretic, Arkaik) on bass and vocals, and Nathan Bigelow (Arkaik, Alterbeast, Solar Impulse) on drums, not to mention keyboardist Nick Pompliano (R.I.P), who sadly passed away during the creation process of the album in 2018, has continually shown themselves to be a forward-thinking act, one with a bold vision built on fusing Technical Death Metal and Symphonic Black Metal together in a myriad of ways. In other words, let’s say this talented American entity was capable of uniting the best of both worlds in Place of Chains, bringing forth music that has at the same time the intricacy and aggressiveness of Death Metal with the beauty and mystery of Black Metal, and the final result is absolutely stunning to say the least.

Mixed by Mike Low (Inferi, Oubliette), mastered by Zak Denham (Anagnorisis), and featuring additional orchestrations on every track by Malcolm Pugh (Inferi, A Loathing Requiem) and a futuristic and apocalyptic artwork by Justin Abraham, who has already worked with several excellent bands like Equipoise, Inanimate Existence, Lecherous Nocturne, A Loathing Requiem, Virulent Depravity and Æpoch, among several others, Place of Chains will undoubtedly and strongly appeal to all fans of bands like  Fleshgod Apocalypse, Old Man’s Child, Dimmu Borgir and the first album from Irreversible Mechanism. “Place of Chains is the translation to the song title ‘Desmoterion’ which lyrically illustrates the emotions of being wrongfully imprisoned. Considering that many of the songs on this record lyrically are about enslavement, we felt it was a good over-arching title for the record. We strongly believe that this is the best Singularity record so far. Singularity would also like to thank our guest artists that we had the privilege of having on this record. With every record, we try to further hone in on what the core of Singularity’s sound is and what we want to bring to the world of metal,” commented the band on the release of their newborn spawn.

Bellum, a cinematic and incendiary intro led by the futuristic orchestrations by guest Malcolm Pugh, sets the stage for Singularity to smash us all in Victory or Death, featuring Jared Christianson (Arkaik) as a guest vocalist.  Showcasing lyrics that invite us all to war (“Let the games begin / Your legions are chosen for a tournament / Worthy of the ages / The astral arena beckons your names”), this is a first-class Technical Death Metal tune where Jack is astounding with his riffs and solos while Nathan sounds like a stone crusher on drums, not to mention the intricacy and groove flowing from Adam’s bass. And in Sisyphean Cycle an ominous intro evolves into a doom-ish feast of Symphonic Black Metal the likes of Dimmu Borgir infused with Death Metal nuances, where Adam continues to impress with his thunderous bass jabs while the keys by Nick bring an extra touch of malignancy to the overall result.

Guest vocalist Jeremy Davis (Animus Complex) brings his own dosage of lunacy to Ritual of Regret (by the way, check the band’s amazing guitar playthrough for it HERE), a song that begins in full force spearheaded by Nathan and his insane beats while Jack and Nick have a healthy and thrilling “riffs-versus-keys duel”, leaning towards pure Symphonic Black Metal at times. Furthermore, all of their roars reach a true demonic level as the music progresses, also bringing to our ears sensational razor-edged guitar solos. Back to a more technical mode, Singularity offer us all Consume and Assume, a fast and intricate Death Metal chant perfect for slamming into the pit, all embraced by the whimsical keys by Nick and also featuring a guest guitar solo by Nick Padovani (Equipoise, Virulent Depravity), who co-composed the song with the band; whereas in Desmoterion you better get ready for over seven minutes of pulverizing Technical Death and Black Metal with all band members being in absolute and demonic sync, bringing forth an imposing and epic atmosphere for our total delight. The song’s vocals couldn’t sound more infernal and wicked than this, as well as its piercing guitar solos and all breaks and variations, resulting in a full-bodied aria by this talented metal unity.

In the berserk Serpentes, Eternal not a single space in the air is left empty, with the Stygian words vociferated by Jack and Adam (“Far below / Beneath black earth and snow and decay / Residing under ice and rot, they seek / Surface world never knows / Eyes like fire, these Serpentine / Hearts beat steady as the ancient ones”) shining amidst a feast of slashing riffs and solos, rumbling bass lines and unstoppable blast beats, followed by Dead Receptors, co-composed by Singularity and John Low (the band’s former drummer), which sounds like a hybrid between classic and a more technical version of Death Metal with a stylish twist, as if it was a dark and devilish “waltz” where the vocal lines alternate between obscure Black Metal moments and full Death Metal roars. And last but not least, As Dark as This Nefarious Night is another onrush of darkened and complex sounds by Singularity where Nathan once again delivers sheer violence on drums, while Jack and Adam make our heads tremble with their respective riffs and bass punches, ending in a visceral and epic manner.

You can enjoy this striking album of technical and symphonic extreme music in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course in order to show your true support to the guys from Singularity, and as a tribute to the deceased Nick Pompliano, you should definitely purchase your copy of the album from The Artisan Era Records’ webstore, from Singularity’s BandCamp page, from Apple Music or from Amazon. Also, don’t forget to give them a shout on their official Facebook page, as I’m sure the band would love to hear your thoughts on Place of Chains. Now it’s time for Singularity to give life to their creations on stage while promoting their new album (which means you should definitely keep an eye on their live tour announcements) before heading back to their spacecraft and begining the writing process of their new material, and I personally can’t wait to see what those skillful and hardworking guys from Arizona will provide us in their future releases.

Best moments of the album: Victory or Death, Ritual of Regret and Desmoterion.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 The Artisan Era Records

Track listing
1. Bellum 2:44
2. Victory or Death 3:39
3. Sisyphean Cycle 6:26
4. Ritual of Regret 3:07
5. Consume and Assume 4:50
6. Desmoterion 7:07
7. Serpentes, Eternal 4:39
8. Dead Receptors 4:03
9. As Dark as This Nefarious Night 5:08

Band members
Jack Fliegler – vocals, guitar
Adam King – vocals, bass
Nick Pompliano (R.I.P) – keyboards
Nathan Bigelow – drums

Guest musicians
Malcolm Pugh – additional orchestrations
Jared Christianson – vocals on “Victory or Death”
Jeremy Davis – vocals on “Ritual of Regret”
Nick Padovani – guitar solo on “Consume and Assume”

Album Review – Inanimate Existence / Clockwork (2019)

A pulverizing album of Technical and Progressive Death Metal by a ruthless Bay Area triumvirate, dealing with the human tendency to struggle with the acceptance of mortality and our limited time on earth.

Formed in 2011 in the renowned Bay Area, in the state of California, United States, Progressive/Technical Death Metal trio Inanimate Existence returns in 2019 with a brand new opus entitled Clockwork, the follow-up to the group’s highly praised fourth album, Underneath a Melting Sky, released in 2017. Featuring a futuristic and whimsical cover art by by Justin Abraham (who has already worked with bands like Equipoise, Aepoch and Oubliette), with additional artwork by Mark Erskine (from Erskine Designs), recorded by Inanimate Existence and Zack Ohren, and mixed and mastered by Zack Ohren at Shark Bite Studios in Oakland, California, Clockwork delves deeper into cerebral Progressive Death Metal depths, while buoyed by the group’s established penchant for merciless full-throttle brutality and frenetic tech-death driven terrain.

And the band comprised of Cameron Porras on vocals and guitar, Scott Bradley on bass and backing vocals, and Ron Casey (Continuum, Brain Drill) on drums had a few nice words to say about their newborn spawn. “We’re thrilled to finally be able to share our 5th studio album with all of you! This is definitely the most work we have ever put into an album by a long shot. Sound wise I’d say that it’s a continuation of our last album but much more polished and mature,” commented the band, describing Clockwork’s thematic focus as “dealing with the human tendency to struggle with the acceptance of mortality and our limited time on earth. It explores the questions we torment ourselves with during life along with the irony of how small and insignificant we are in the grand scheme of the universe. The title refers to the mechanisms of a clock and how every tick brings you closer to your doom.”

The trio begins firing their fusion of insanity and progression mercilessly in the title-track Clockwork, with Ron dictating the rhythm with his furious beats while Cameron brings a touch of delicacy to the music with his guitar riffs and solos, sounding at the same time devastating and very melodic; whereas in Voyager we’re treated to lyrics that exhale insanity (“Isolated, trapped inside the capsule / I fear that I may now be on my own / My crew have perished, and I am alone / Orbiting beyond the atmosphere / My communications are down and the power is cut / I gaze back to the Earth / Wondering, will I be remembered?”), with the music bringing elements from smoother styles like Jazz while Scott extracts sheer thunder from his intricate bass lines. This talented American triumvirate keeps smashing our senses with their vicious Progressive Death Metal attack in Apophenia, as complex and pulverizing as possible, sounding as if the almighty Krisiun went full progressive at times, offering to the listener several neck-breaking moments led by Ron’s insane drumming; and their metal extravaganza goes on in Desert, with all three member firing wicked and intricate sounds and tones from their respective instruments. Put differently, it’s straightforward Progressive Death Metal with a vibrant atmosphere, not to mention Cameron’s sick solos adding some welcome lunacy to the overall result.

In Solitude the band offers us pensive and modern lyrics (“I return to solitude / Where once again I contemplate / What my purpose is inside this burdensome reality / I return to solitude / Where once again I contemplate / What is my purpose?”), while its instrumental parts are absolutely mental, with both Cameron and Ron crushing their weapons nonstop, followed by Diagnosis, where the band continues to slash our ears with the modernized and very complex version of Death Metal. Moreover, the bass lines by Scott sound insanely heavy and metallic, with the music also bringing interesting eerie passages and breaks (despite going on for a bit too long). Then back to a more demonic and infuriated mode we have Ocean, blending the most violent and thrilling elements from Progressive and Death Metal with Ron sounding infernal on drums, therefore providing Cameron the perfect ambience for gnarling deeply and rabidly, once again presenting spot-on melodic and ethereal passages. Lastly, Liberation closes the album with more of the dynamic, electrifying sounds from the depths of the human psyche by the trio, with Scott and Ron bringing thunder to the musicality while Cameron keeps delivering harmonious riffs and solos while growling like a beast until the song’s visceral ending.

You can have your brain shredded into pieces by listening to Clockwork in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, and after being stunned by Inanimate Existence simply go check what they’re up to on their official Facebook page, including their tour dates, and purchase your copy of their brand new opus from their BandCamp page, from The Artisan Era webstore (in several exclusive formats and bundles), from Apple Music or from Amazon. As aforementioned, the band itself said that we all struggle with the concept of mortality and our limited time on this planet, which means we should not waste too much time thinking but enjoying some good, destructive and complex Death Metal while we’re alive, with Clockwork being an excellent choice for that.

Best moments of the album: Voyager, Desert and Ocean.

Worst moments of the album: Diagnosis.

Released in 2019 The Artisan Era Records

Track listing
1. Clockwork 4:34
2. Voyager 5:40
3. Apophenia 4:37
4. Desert 4:06
5. Solitude 4:42
6. Diagnosis 5:34
7. Ocean 4:55
8. Liberation 6:43

Band members
Cameron Porras – vocals, guitar
Scott Bradley – bass, vocals
Ron Casey – drums

Album Review – Virulent Depravity / Fruit of the Poisoned Tree (2017)

Technical Death Metal cannot get more intense, complex and devastating than what Tennessee-based guitarist, bassist and vocalist Colin Butler and his henchmen have to offer in their debut full-length album.

If you’re an admirer of the most technical form of Death Metal, you’ll be excited to know that Virulent Depravity, the brainchild of Nashville, Tennessee-based guitarist, bassist and vocalist Colin Butler, have just released their debut full-length album, a lesson in dexterity and devastation named Fruit of the Poisoned Tree, and that the final result goes beyond the boundaries of awesomeness. Featuring a classic artwork by American designer Justin Abraham (Apotheosys, A Loathing Requiem, Engulfed in Blackness), the album will appeal to fans of Spawn Of Possession, First Fragment, Archspire, Origin, Necrophagist, Deeds of Flesh, Decrepit Birth and tons of other Death Metal acts who unite the words “finesse” and “ravage” in the most electrifying and precise way imaginable.

Formed In 2015, Virulent Depravity might be a new name to many in the world of Death Metal, but its band members are far from being rookies in the fields of extreme music. The impressive musical abilities by Colin attracted the attention of well-known guitarist Malcolm Pugh (Inferi, A Loathing Requiem), who joined the band in 2016 on rhythm guitar and additional solos. Furthermore, the line-up is rounded out by Svart Crown drummer Kévin Paradis, whose incredible playing is the perfect foil to Colin and Malcolm’s dazzling performances, resulting in additional layers of complexity, speed and energy added to the already flammable music by Virulent Depravity, as you’ll be able to thoroughly enjoy in Fruit of the Poisoned Tree due to the album’s fantastic mixing and production.

Colin and Malcolm begin their technical shredding attack in the brutish but still very harmonious Serpentine Messiah, a perfect sample of modern Technical Death Metal where the beastly Kévin provides intricate beats and fills that complement all guitar and bass lines flawlessly, not to mention the sick guitar solo by guest musician Mark Hawkins. After such amazing start, how about a modernized and more metallic version of Cannibal Corpse, titled Spineless Obedience, a demolishing anthem tailored for slamming into the pit? The violent and fast growls by Colin effectively follow the song’s frantic riffs and beats, and once again it’s impressive how demented Kévin sounds with his beats. And their insanity in the form of extreme music goes on with another belligerent creation named Your Demise, where Colin and his bandmates deliver a precise fusion of fury and complexity, sounding more demonic than ever.

Blasting sheer violence through their riffs and solos, Colin and Malcolm have an outstanding performance in Desecrating Eden, while Kévin continues his maniacal onrush behind his drums (not to mention the song’s beyond technical ending), followed by the title-track Fruit of the Poisoned Tree, which not only maintains the intricacy at an absurdly high level, but it brings even more aggressiveness due to the amazing job done by Colin with his deranged gnarls and Kévin with his sick drumming. Put differently, no one can survive such apocalyptic tornado of Technical Death Metal. And guess what? In the next tune, named Bad Drug, they don’t waste a single second with intros or other shenanigans, firing pure Death Metal played to perfection, with its visceral lyrics complementing the song’s already vile musicality (“You’re so sick / You’re infecting the weak / You’re making excuses for all your mistakes / You waste of skin / You remind us all / No matter how high we become / We crash to the ground / You’ve had the devil inside you / You’ve been carrying scars for most of your life / Until finally you found a way to push it down”), also featuring an awesome guitar solo by guest musician Nick Padovani.

Colin definitely knows how to canalize all his hatred and wrath into his unstoppable growling as we can witness in Beyond the Point of No Return, an uproarious chant with progressive elements added to its musicality, in special to its extremely elaborate bass lines and vicious drumming. Then we have Only Human, where we face a calmer intro not seen in any of the previous songs. Although it takes a while for the music to take off, it fairly succeeds in keeping the album at a high level of violence; however, it doesn’t sound as exciting as all previous songs, even with its interesting progressive break and the great guitar oslo by guest musician Craig Peters. Back to a more demonic and rabid mode, Colin once again leads his horde growling like a beast in Mechanized Defilement, while Kévin adds so much intricacy to the musicality with his beats and fills it’s hard to explain in words. The song also features another kick-ass solo by another guest guitarist, this time Elijah Whitehead, resulting in a song that is excellent for some sick headbanging, slamming into the pit or simply enjoying its complex lines. Lastly, in Crushed by Futuristic Filth, we’re treated to a short atmospheric intro before all hell breaks loose in a majestic display of extreme music featuring absolutely mighty lyrics (“Sitting atop my throne of flesh and bone / My power is absolute / My subjects are waiting idly / Their silence is deafening / Embalmed in trash and kerosene / At once triumphant and disgusting”), obscure Latin chants by guest vocalist Nathan “Sounds” Bounds, a soulful guitar solo by guest musician Sims Cashion, a moody Jazz-ish break thanks to the keys by Jimmy Pitts, and a wonderful climatic ending on the piano also provided by Jimmy.

Why don’t you go to YouTube and take a very good listen at Fruit of the Poisoned Tree in its entirety? I’m sure you’ll get stunned by the precision with which Colin, Malcolm and Kévin blend melodious lines with total chaos. Then simply go to Facebook to start following such amazing band, and purchase the album at their BandCamp page, at The Artisan Era Records’ BandCamp or webstore (where you can choose between the regular CD or the special CD + T-shirt combo), on iTunes or on Amazon. Trust me, Technical Death Metal cannot get more complete and intense than this.

Best moments of the album: Serpentine Messiah, Fruit of the Poisoned Tree and Crushed by Futuristic Filth.

Worst moments of the album: Only Human.

Released in 2017 The Artisan Era Records

Track listing   
1. Serpentine Messiah 4:38
2. Spineless Obedience 4:01
3. Your Demise 4:02
4. Desecrating Eden 6:13
5. Fruit of the Poisoned Tree 4:01
6. Bad Drug 3:42
7. Beyond the Point of No Return 3:33
8. Only Human 7:48
9. Mechanized Defilement 6:05
10. Crushed by Futuristic Filth 7:41

Band members
Colin Butler – vocals, guitar, bass
Malcolm Pugh – lead & rhythm guitar
Kévin Paradis – drums

Guest musicians
Jimmy Pitts – keyboards on “Desecrating Eden” and “Crushed by Futuristic Filth”
Mark Hawkins – guitar solo on “Serpentine Messiah”
Nick Padovani – guitar solo on “Bad Drug”
Craig Peters – guitar solo on “Only Human”
Elijah Whitehead – guitar solo on “Mechanized Defilement”
Sims Cashion – guitar solo on “Crushed by Futuristic Filth”
Nathan “Sounds” Bounds – guest vocals and Latin chants on “Crushed by Futuristic Filth”