I don’t even remember how it happened. It was most likely on angrymetalguy.com, since that is how I tend to find most of my new music. But I recall seeing the cover for Relentless Mutation by Archspire, and thinking “that is some freaking crazy album artwork!”
Little did I know, the artwork was just a shadow of what I would discover on the actual album itself.
Firing that album up and hearing “Involuntary Doppelgänger” was one of those pivotal moments in my music life. No joke. I knew, going in, that Archspire was technical death metal. So I expected theatrics. My brain and ears were not ready for the level of theatrics. Insane drum fills, lightning fast guitar riffs, and harsh vocals that were so rapid fire and percussive, I still haven’t heard their like.
But while it was immediate amazement, it wasn’t immediate love. The technical ability on display was untouchable. But so dense was the music that it took a bit to really get into it. However, once I did, I was secondarily amazed at how, despite the insanity of the music, there was still a focus on melody, on the musicality of the songs. It became one of my favorite albums of 2017.
Fast forward to 2021. The announcement of a new Archspire album was now met with immediate anticipation. Listening, over and over again, to the singles that were released prior to the full album dropping, my anticipation was only fed. And then the full album dropped.
Bleed the Future is an unapologetic, brutal, technical 32 minutes. It is also an absolute, unequivocal triumph.
On display is everything about Relentless Mutation that I loved, but better. More speed, more technicality, more vocal lines that are so fast you simply can’t follow them if you happen to watch the lyric video. No joke. But most impressive is this: these songs are catchy as hell. It is true. Despite the brutality, the speed, the insanity of the music, these songs are true earworms. Melodies get stuck in your head, passages embed themselves in a way that just won’t let go or let up.
Very welcome on this release is an improvement in the presence of the bass. Rush was my first love, the first band I went all in on, and I think that has had a huge influence on my lifelong love of bass in music. And so, it pains me when it is absent (And Justice For All I’m glaring in your direction). And while it wasn’t absent on previous releases, it just feels so much more present here. It rounds out each song, adding a depth that is so welcome.
Amongst the insanity there are also many moments to catch one’s breath. These moments of slow and peaceful brilliance are essential and so welcome. While just over 30 minutes long, Bleed The Future would be punishing to get through from start to finish, were it not for these well placed and thoughtful breaks. They are another example of just how tight and brilliant Archspire are. These guys know what they are doing, and understand music incredibly well.
Melodic guitar solos also act in a contrapuntal fashion to the brutal tech death riffing, giving moments of reprieve from the onslaught, injecting beauty in the overall all album. The efficiency of the album in communicating all of this is incredible.
If it wasn’t obvious yet, let me make this perfectly clear. Bleed the Future is a truly amazing album. It is rare that an album grabs me with such a choke hold, but this has done just that. Other very good albums have come out recently, and yet while I listen to them, all I can think is “but I could be listening to Bleed The Future instead!” If this isn’t my top album of 2021, it means something is coming out in the next two months that I am not aware of. I don’t see how any album tops this.
Archspire aren’t just bleeding the future, these guys are creating the future of tech death in a way no other band is. And this is a future I believe in and welcome.