[18th February 2014]
01. Reveal The Unseen
02. The Nature Of Blight
03. Breaking The Great Narcissist
04. A Speech To Survival
06. Monumental Burden
07. I Am You
08. Engineering The Void
Five billion years ago the Earth was formed, give or take a billion years. 50,000 years ago, humans evolved to their current form both anatomically and behaviorally. It has been less than 100 years since recorded music has been available for commercial consumption. In that brief fraction of time in the scope of human existence, people have gone from having access to maybe a few dozen tunes over the course of their entire life to tens of millions of songs with a few finger swipes. Literally anything one can imagine is available instantly.
There is stunning diversity in the sonic creations of these highly intelligent apes. Entire genres and subgenres have been explored and pushed to their boundaries—some to the point that they have been run entirely into the ground—with absolutely nothing new to offer. What does this have to do with Soreption and their sophomore album Engineering The Void? Everything!
Obligatory blanket statement about technical death metal in 2014: the subgenre is staler than the slice of toast you dropped behind your refrigerator three weeks ago. The arms race to write faster, choppier, and colder music has reached its saturation point—with a few young, personality-free bands like Rings Of Saturn and Brain Drill waving the flag of furious musical masturbation. Soreption have clearly eclipsed those aforementioned bands in songwriting ability and effort; however, they have not done what is truly necessary in a subgenre that in its purist form has nothing left to say. Barring a few glints of humanity, Engineering The Void is neither memorable nor moving. Soreption fail to connect to the head and the heart.
On Engineering The Void, the band have favored a very clean production style that allows for every instrument to be heard with exceptional clarity. There is no fuzz or grit, focusing instead on a sound that is as sterile as the tools of a compulsive surgeon. This album rarely shows signs of a human touch, only displaying some warmth between the icy riffs with gorgeous, melodious soloing. It’s abundantly apparent that guitarist Anton Svedin is the driving force behind the sound of Soreption. Truly, the guitar playing shows dazzling virtuosity with those blistering solos and oft groovy riffing, but unfortunately the majority of the work is tedious, impenetrable chuggery. The bass work is clear and stays in lockstep with what the rest of the rhythm section is doing. That’s no easy feat, mind you, but the fact that it’s hard to play alone does not make it interesting.
Speaking of the rhythm section: Tony Westermark is a monster behind the drum kit. He’s the kind of monster like in Cloverfield though—an enormous force that suffocates everything else going on. The double bass drum pounding is relentless and by extension meaningless. Without variety, the intensity of the drumming is lost and it becomes an obnoxious barrage that gets in the way of the rest of the band. Clearly, the man can play extremely well, and when he slows some restraint it’s great. The rest of the time it’s tiresome, wearing out its welcome by the end of the first song “Reveal the Unseen”—which is thankfully the most forgettable on the album.
Following the opening track, each song at least has some head-bob worthy grooves to settle into or a gimmick like the abrupt symphonic interludes found midway through “Breaking The Great Narcissist” as well as “Monumental Burden”. These are not transitioned to in a way that flows organically; the interludes are nevertheless a welcome reprieve to add dynamics to the cacophony.
The vocals serve as a percussive element as well—emphasizing the riffs in expected ways. Throughout Engineering The Void there is little variety in the vocals, with Fredrik Soderberg mostly utilizing a lower to mid-ranged growl. Vocalists who get a lot of flack in death metal for being “bad” outright may at least be notable for having a distinct voice. One would be hard pressed to pick Soderberg out from a crowd. These vocals are without a doubt good for what Soreption is trying to achieve, but they are indistinguishable from any other competently performed death metal vocals. Nowhere is this more apparent than on the closing titular song “Engineering The Void” which features the inimitable Trevor Strnad of The Black Dahlia Murder as a guest. His spot is brief, but Strnad is so dynamic and expert in his craft that it creates a stark contrast to Soderberg’s one-dimensional delivery.
If you have grown weary of technical death metal in the last 5 years, Soreption are not doing anything that will bring you sprinting back in its arms. You would be better served to stick with Exodromos and Omnivium or keep waiting interminably for a follow-up to Epitaph. On the other hand, if you are a robot who loves tech-death because you do not have enough RAM to process human emotions, then by all means purchase Engineering The Void. It is cold enough to prevent your robot system from overheating.