Album: Unparalleled Universe
Genre: Technical Death Metal
Review by Steve Jenkins
For 20 years now, death metal giants Origin have dominated the scene with their technically-fueled approach to brutality, delivering superb releases time after time that clearly and easily set them above the ranks. After 2011's Entity and 2014's Omnipresent, they've come bearing arms once more with Unparalleled Universe, a release that promises ultimate destruction of your eardrums in an unrelenting 40 minutes of non-stop chaos. Surpassing expectations yet again, the Kansas quartet are undoubtedly proud to present another look at the euphoric pandemonium that is the sound of Origin.
Having always been one of the scene’s most extreme bands, Origin have copped a fair amount of criticism from disinterested doubters and elitists that wrongfully group them with bands that steer clear of integrity for complexity. Most tech death bands can effectively be broken into two categories, the ones that utilize technical ability as a means of heightening the intensity or atmosphere within a song, and those that simply use said song as a vehicle to demonstrate their proficiency. When a band happens to be of Origin’s high caliber, lines can become blurred and people can easily mistake the music’s obscurity for a lack of attention paid to song writing. This is not the case with Origin whatsoever.
Jason Keyser, who joined the band back in 2011 as the vocalist, backed by guitarist Paul Ryan and bassist Mike Flores, Keyser displays a performance that is just as impressive as any of the previous frontmen, delivering a monstrous sound. The better part of 'Accident And Error' and the introduction to 'Infinitesimal To The Infinite' are perfect indicators of Keyser's experience behind the microphone, as his high-pitched wailing gives way to Origin's trademark low growls.
Meanwhile, the backing vocalists drive the sound to the next level on tracks like album closer 'Revolution' as their eclectic patterns mesh with Keyser's to annihilate any hope of reprieve.
'Invariance Under Transformation' serves as the album's halfway point, with a slightly slower-paced instrumental offering but still heavy and technical. This is the only time on the album that we get to hear a soft and sombre piece from Origin's guitarist Paul Ryan; despite his reputation for making grown men soil their trousers with a pluck of a string, his performance on the track is indicative of an understanding of song structure beyond the high-speed, out-of-control approach we've come to associate with the band. That being said, the album is full of memorable guitar passages that are just as brutal as they are mesmerising - in particular, the epic 9 minute shred-fest 'Unequivocal' which is also a showcase of the insane talent from drummer John Longstreth. As the screeching guitars and frantic vocal patterns give way to high-octane hat hits and blast beats that single-handedly elevates the BPM with their breakneck speeds. Rounding out the experience is the aforementioned Mike Flores, who breathes life into the rest of the mix with his insane basswork, deviating from the structure when he feels the need to deliver one of those impressive and anticipated solos. While neither the drummer nor the bassist redefine their roles as musicians, they certainly show a level of skill and understanding that many bands lack.
Unparalleled Universe is a record that grabs the listener by the throat from the very beginning of the first track and doesn't stop throttling them until the album's close. Opening or closing on a strong note is one thing and Origin have proven that they can deliver a breathtaking listening experience from beginning to end. Showing an unrelenting sense of brutality, this full-length has an enigmatic sense of tact about it that persuades its listeners to stick around for the whole ride without slowing down all that much at all. While the band hasn't redefined the genre, and they haven't done much to challenge the tropes that go into their own music, Unparalleled Universe more than matches Origin's previous efforts and goes into a limited sense of new territory, proving alongside Dying Fetus, Decrepit Birth and Hour Of Penance, that technical death metal is alive and well in 2017.
8.5 out of 10 stars.
Unparalleled Universe is out now via Nuclear Blast Records.
Check out the video for the track 'Accident And Error' below: