Hey there tech-fiends, its that time of the week again. And once again, we have a special early stream for you this week. But as always, before we get to that, here's the usual weekly reminder that all prior editions of this series can be perused here.
While I'm genuinely excited about each and every group I cover here in this space, naturally there are going to be some which excite me more. Along with others I cover more so in order to do my due diligence and cover a wide range of what's out there in the tech-death world that fans of it may enjoy. Falling into the first category is today's pick from Zurich, Switzerland, Virvum.
I first heard about these guys when they initially released their first single, "The Aftermath Psychosis", back in 2013. While they were already making great music at that point, they seemed to jump into a higher gear on their next standalone single in 2015 called "Internal Howl", which I made sure to cover at my other gig at NoCleanSinging. As a group whom I'd only seen advance in their craft over time, I had very high expectations for what their debut full-length, Illuminance, would possibly bring. Now that it's close to being released this Friday, I can confidently say its one of the best technical death metal debut albums with staying power I've heard in some time.
As soon as opener "The Cypher Supreme" unfurls its gnarly blasting and mesmerizing guitar-work, it becomes clear that this record has its own identity and unique musical journey in store. As far as the kind of tech-death on display here, it's a mercurial blend of ferocious yet ethereal sounds. Overall sounding like a crossbreed between Decrepit Birth, Fallujah, Beyond Creation, and The Faceless. This back and forth duality between complex aggressiveness and epic bliss filled proggy moments becomes the central guiding trait that informs Virvum's sonic identity throughout Illuminance. It's a duality that's on display in different mixtures and measures across all the following tracks, including track two's intense statement on "Earthwork". A vicious swarm of death that's frequently interspersed with lush prog-death moments, "Earthwork" often showcases leads that bring the genres fore-bearers Death to mind in a subliminal way. From there the tracks that follow such as the title track, "Illuminance", "Ad Rigorem", and "Tentacles Of The Sun", show off different avenues and differing song structures in which the band can explore this dueling compositional mash-up between harsh aggression and heavenly melodies amid the development of near soundscape-esque atmospheric built up moments.
While the following track, "Elemental Shift", can definitely be seen as in line with the kind of music they've created on prior tracks, this song in particular seems to focus more on delivering a wholly progressive death metal experience from start to finish. From there we get the first part of the two song closer, "I: A New Journey Awaits", an aptly titled instrumental number with an almost sci-fi film score feeling at first, before it morphs into a montage of sorts of some of the albums prior guitar melody themes re-combined in a new way. Which then leads into the albums final song, "II: A Final Warming Shine: Ascension And Trespassing", one which also clocks in as the albums longest song, and also their finest moment. While some bands like to "frontload" records, I'm always fond of groups who use the final cut on a release to deliver their most devastating and epic blow. And damn, "II: A Final Warming Shine: Ascension And Trespassing", truly shows the Virvum at their fullest potential on what becomes the most ambitious and epic song on Illuminance.
If there ever was a modern tech-death record that stood between what the genre was, while bridging the gap into what it's evolving into, Illuminance from Virvum will sit right there at the front as a group skillfully blending old and new into something all their own. Every performance from each member is tightly interwoven with the efforts of each other performance to create a singular force on a determined mission to deliver something special which deftly combines the best aspects of technical death metal and progressive death metal together in a really cool way. Virvum – Illuminance will be officially released this Friday, September 16th. Illuminance can be ordered in a variety of formats and bundles over at the Virvum Bandcamp page. Be sure to follow Virvum on their official Facebook Page as well!