posted on 8/2008 By:
Boston's Archaeon is not to be confused with Toronto's defunct Archaeon, that latter band featuring members of Woods of Ypres. This American Archaeon plays a brand of brutal technical death metal that you've heard before—choked/grunted vocals, pounding drums, some guitar flash and pinch-squealing riffs. Not that it's bad, because for what it is, it's good—it’s burly deathcore, performed precisely to standard, and with that in mind, like about, say, 84% of similar bands, it’s not doing anything to set itself apart from the pack.
Reviewers loathe nothing more than the undifferentiating album--it's hard to remark upon the unremarkable, after all--and with that in mind, as listenable as they may be, Archaeon leaves me wanting more, wanting anything that may give me fodder for some interesting comment, some engrossing angle. But alas, I've got nothing more than fifteen minutes of acceptable tech-leaning death metal, alternating chunky rhythms and dissonant guitars and nary a whit of distinct identity.
Vanitas is a four-song EP, the band's debut (and even at that abbreviated length, it’s actually shorter than it appears, since one of those songs is just an intro, an atmospheric instrumental underneath some spoken-word "mood-setting" nonsense). This one rides by in about fifteen minutes, with Suffocation/Cannibal Corpse/Whitechapel comparisons and the typical "original blend of tech and brutality" mindset that doesn’t strike me as being terribly original. The tunes are mostly mid-tempo, lumbering along in that caveman gait that I do appreciate in my death metal and sliding often into the chunky palm-muted stagger that defines (and often derails) most every deathcore record. Carlos Moran’s vocals are inward and guttural, swallowed into the depths of his being, but in the album’s best moments, the vocal attack is varied up with some thrashy midrange rasping to offset Moran’s rumbling lows. Instrumentally, there are some pretty interesting moments, for example in the latter half of "Esurient Fount (The Risen Nephilim)" where there are some earth-shattering stomping low riffs that are deathcore to the core, but do what they do well enough to get the ol’ toes tapping.
Vanitas is short and to the point, but whether or not it’s sweet depends on your need or tolerance (or lack thereof) for yet another indistinguishable death metal act. Having run through about twenty of these in the past six months, I can say with certainty that I’ll likely not spin Vanitas terribly often, if at all, but I am not completely averse to listening to whatever Archaeon may release next with hopes that it transcends its peers and influences.
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