REVIEW: Archspire - The Lucid Collective

Genre: Technical Death Metal
Label: Season of Mist
Date of Release: April 25, 2014


Archspire was founded in 2010 in Vancouver and made a debut with their first full-length "All Shall Align" the following year, gaining their position among the Canadian tech-death titans along with Cryptopsy and Beneath The Massacre. After being signed to Season Of Mist (Atheist, Gorguts, Wormed), they would release their second full-length in 2014 called "The Lucid Collective."

The first thing that must be said about this album is that like before, the musicianship is beyond top-notch. Both the vocals and instruments wield a ton of velocity and complexity, and it's all beyond impressive. The former has a lot of aggression and some nice range, the guitars deliver lots of complex and rapid-fire melodies and solos, and the drums have just as much technical prowess. These songs do not hold back in showing how utterly talented and skilled the musicians are at doing what they do, and this instrumentation is easily the highlight of the record.

There is a catch, however: As well as the stellar musicianship is the album's greatest strength, it's also the album's greatest weakness. While showcased well, the musicians' talents could have been integrated into constructive tracks better. There are multiple instances where it feels like the record is less focused on delivering concise, engaging tracks and more on showing off, and it sort of takes away from the listening experience and gets a little boring at times. "Fathom Infinite Depth," for an example, opens with fast-paced vocal barks that feel a tad unneeded and almost unintentionally funny. It doesn't completely destroy the release's enjoyment, but it does get a bit stale after a while.

That isn't to say that this album definitely has its moments, though. The opener "Lucid Collective Somnambulant" is easily the best track that's put on the table, where the vivid musicianship is weaved into a flowing structure so it's both technical and investing. Over the course of the record, there is a good sleuth of powerful guitar solos that mesh well into the songs and truly deliver on top of the other instrumental performances.

The production may be a splitting point for general audiences. The music itself doesn't hold that much atmosphere, and the percussion in particular sounds kind of tinny and wooden. At the same time, however, it does fit the overall tone of what "The Lucid Collective" is trying to reach. Almost possessing the type of mixing that can be found in Obscura or Spawn Of Possession records, while the album definitely could have benefited from more resonance, the thinness of the instruments does click well with the type of sound Archspire is trying to get across.

Although it could have been a bit more concise, "The Lucid Collective" turned out to be a solid death metal release. The musicianship is incredibly potent, albeit having a bad habit of being needlessly flashy it at times. There are some real stand-out moments as well, and those craving extremely technical metal can really sink their teeth into this record. As a sequel to "All Shall Align," this album will also strongly appeal to fans of the band's older material. On the other hand, even if you don't end up enjoying it, at least you can take comfort in enjoying the band's instrumental talents.

Score: 7/10 (Solid)