Archspire have been around for over a decade, but it was 2017’s Relentless Mutation that turned them into scene leaders. After gaining thousands of new fans (including Jason Momoa) and touring the planet, the Vancouver tech-death prodigies are ready to follow up their breakthrough album. Bleed The Future hits new levels of dizzying technicality mixed with the band’s ability to make the most complicated riffs sound catchy. Whether you are a longtime Archspire listener or someone just getting into death metal, you really couldn’t ask for more.
At the mechanical heart of Bleed The Future is Tom Morelli and Dean Lamb's 8-string guitar attack. Archspire's music might be a million miles removed from classic heavy metal but there are definitely shades of Randy Rhoads in the soaring guitar solos these two conjure up. Of course, it's all buried under an avalanche of blast beats and technical extremity that flies past at warp speed. Even when things do slow down for some tasteful clean passages, it's still full of the fretboard acrobatics we've come to expect. Archspire don't do minimalism. These guys play five notes where lesser bands could only manage two.
The speed at which Archspire attack on Bleed The Future is insane. We've all seen technical death metal bands play at inhuman tempos before, but this is something else. The 360 BPM title track is a miracle of precision, one where vocalist Oli Peters is spitting like extreme Busta Rhymes. Spencer Prewett has already singled himself out as one of the fastest drummers in modern metal. But when he kicks it up to 400 BPM on "A.U.M" he silences any remaining doubters. Prewett is dynamic and talented enough to keep his drums from devolving into one neverending blast beat. As he flails from one end of his kit to the other, we get the sense that this is the new equal to Gene Hoglan and Tomas Haake.
"Drone Corpse Aviator" is a standout track on Bleed the Future. It has the potential to become a setlist staple (if the band's fingers don't snap off from playing before then). Under the pig squeals, gang vocals and explosive drumming is one of the best songs in Archspire's catalogue. But even with this as the standout, the whole album holds up. Archspire don't overstay their welcome and the end comes with you still wanting more.
One real champion here is producer Dave Otero. Bleed The Future avoids the production pitfalls that bring down so many great technical death metal bands: overloud drums, underutilized guitar and a compact, sterile sound. Hearing the way Jared Smith’s bass arpeggios dance across the mix gives us some hope for death metal yet.
Canada has produced some of the finest tech-death metal acts of all time. Cryptopsy, Beneath The Massacre, Beyond Creation and Gorguts have all left their mark, but Archspire seem to be the new leaders of the pack. They are leading bands like Tomb Mold and Æpoch into a Canadian death metal renaissance, one driven by websites like Bandcamp, where the underground is alive and well. Technical death metal couldn't ask for better leaders at this moment and we are lucky to have them. Rock on, guys. This is great.