Vivid Interpretations of the Void
posted on 1/2011 By:
The last few years have seen an explosion of tech-death bands, some exciting and some not-so-much. California’s Embryonic Devourment (whose gore-grind-esque moniker belies their robotic technicality) isn’t quite new—Vivid Interpretations Of The Void is their second full-length in seven years, both released on the dependable Deepsend. And while Embryonic doesn’t necessarily add anything to the overall blueprint beyond the expected finger-twisting, ear-spinning pummeling, in Vivid Interpretations, they’ve crafted one of the sub-genre’s better recent releases. By talent or luck or both, they’ve managed to avoid the patchwork “riff-collage” songwriting that plagues the style, whilst still exhibiting an intelligent, visceral and hyper-complex anger akin to the likes of Decrepit Birth or Obscura.
As you’d imagine, Vivid Interpretations sports rapid-fire and off-kilter riffing, but the pieces fit together well enough that these tunes don’t feel as complicated as they are—between the tweedling guitars and the fleet-footed drum patterns and the occasional bass blurble, much musical madness is manifested, and it’s truly to Embryonic’s credit that these tunes are cohesive, the atmosphere loose and not one of complete chaos even as the riffs bend and spin. All I’d read about Embryonic prior to sampling this platter (which is to say, “a few reviews here and there, enough to pique my curiosity”) cited the vocals as the weakest point. Handled by bassist Austin Spence and guitarist Lauren Pike, the vocals range from a throaty midrange traditional death growl to a more shouted approach, and while those reviews I read are somewhat correct—the vocals are the weakest link—it should be noted that “weakest” is relative. In the semi-intelligible and unaffected (and non-FX-ed) growling, there’s a certain old-school quality that I find comforting, and though these vocals are not perfect, I certainly didn’t find them to be a hindrance.
In the album’s finest moments, Embryonic Devourment balances their tech riffing with some nice melodic touches, particularly in the fluid soloing (witness “Gravitational Oblivion,”), and that balance helps elevate them above their overly mechanical, scale-and-odd-time-signature-obsessed peers. On the production front, all is tight and clean, although I’m not wild about the tinny bass tone—I’d love it if Vivid Interpretations had more low-end, a bit more grit to offset the mechanical sound and style.
Lyrically, Vivid Interpretations tackles science-fiction themes (or reality, depending on whether or not you’re David Icke), as the whole album revolves around the alleged Reptilian domination over mankind. I’m not certain if Embryonic Devourment is promoting that particular theory or merely documenting it, and I won’t spend time detailing it either way (you can look it up), but I will say that it’s certainly an interesting concept for a tech-death album—the science-fiction(-ish) slant fits nicely with the musical approach and snappy, crisp production.
All in, in the spate of tech-death releases in the last few years, I’ve been left cold by many, the calculated nature of the beast often failing to generate energy enough to grab my fancy while the disjointed structures tended to confuse matters more. Embryonic Devourment has sidestepped both pitfalls with Vivid Interpretations—and in the process, they’ve dropped a tech-death disc that plays to the strengths of the style and yet remains enjoyable even for those typically not impressed by instrumental complexity.
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