There are occasional golden moments in the life of an extreme metal fan when new music is so ridiculously brutal and over-the-top that the only fitting response is to burst into hysterical laughter. That is not to say that there is anything lightweight or comical about ARCHSPIRE, as anyone that has listened to the Vancouver quintet’s three previous albums will attest. But the music on “Bleed the Future” takes ultra-brutal, technical death metal wizardry to absurd levels of virtuosity and precision, and it’s as infectious as a fit of the giggles. Even in an overpopulated scene where lofty standards of musicianship are generally expected, ARCHSPIRE are an audacious proposition and seemingly so technically gifted that their only real challenge is to keep themselves amused.
“Drone Corpse Aviator” slams the gauntlet down for any other death metal with aspirations to be among the genre’s elite. Delivered at an insane speed, without sacrificing a single shred of lethal to-the-grid accuracy, it would be hugely impressive even without all the clever melodic tricks, blazing solos and moments of mechanistic groove that make its four breathless minutes feel so crafted and complete. Likewise, “Golden Mouth of Ruin” is a straightforwardly great death metal song, but one with bursts of inhuman complexity and a vocal from frontman Oliver Rae Aleron that defies all rational explanation, such is its speed and power. Although ARCHSPIRE are firmly in the tradition of forebears like NECROPHAGIST, ORIGIN and WORMED, the Canadians’ musicality extends way beyond those bands’ all-out tech attack. “Abandon the Linear” is another breath-taking, hyper-speed assault, but one whose twists and turns always lead somewhere fascinating, from drugged-out, downtempo interludes to juddering flashes of neoclassical shred. Meanwhile, the title track is a master class in syncopated violence and malicious mood swings, while also being weirdly catchy.
The second half of “Bleed the Future” keeps that speed and intensity at their absolute limits, across four more explosive mini-symphonies of destruction. ARCHSPIRE are so resolutely on-the-money throughout that, against the odds, they occasionally make playing this music sound easy. But it really isn’t easy. And it’s rarely this substantial, memorable or innocently enjoyable to listen to. Once listeners recover from the shock of hearing death metal shoved brutally into a turbocharged, steroidal future, “Bleed the Future” will stand out as a fabulously vicious and unrelenting metal record. This time, however, the bar has definitely been raised.