Technical death metal – you confounding bastard you…..what a great year you had! So great, we were compelled to select 10 of your releases and gush all over them.
Presenting the 10 greatest technical death metal albums of 2021 (in our humble opinion of course)…..
Eximperituserqethhzebibšiptugakkathšulweliarzaxułum – Šahrartu [Belarus]
Released: January 29th, 2021 via Willowtip Records
Before we begin…..these Minsk miscreants are known as Eximperitus for short (thank fuck).
Here’s a band that may garner attention for their ridiculously long and impossible to pronounce name but should, instead, be revered for the Nile-esque technical delivery of their death metal!
Surprisingly catchy one minute and oppressively heavy the next, Eximperitus‘ skill (and noticeable growth) lay in their ability to temper unnerving aggression with technical flourishes full of nagging hooks and fiendish melody. Sumerian/Babylonian concepts may have been done to death but Eximperitus’ have proven themselves to be very much alive in the tech death scene…..and Šahrartu was the album to increase their profile tenfold!
Hannes Grossmann – To Where The Light Retreats [Germany]
Released: Independently on June 1st, 2021
Who the hey is Hannes Grossmann, some of you may be thinking? Allow us to enlighten you. Hannes has his fingers in all the damn pies, with his drumming talents employed by the likes of technical death metal deities Alkaloid, Obscura and Necrophagist (Epitaph-era) while also lending his silky skills to such luminaires as Hate Eternal, Triptykon, Blotted Science, Eternity’s End and Gomorrah. Quite the résumé! Now he again ventures out into the wilderness alone…and he’s fully prepped for whatever the elements dared throw at him.
We say go it ‘alone’ but Hannes Grossmann is his own band and To Where The Light Retreats was actually ‘their’ 4th album and the follow up to 2019’s damn decent, Apophenia. Why we hadn’t caught up with Hannes ‘solo’ travels prior to now is beyond explanation as this alchemic blend of progressive / technical / melodic death metal was an absolute joy to behold! It helped that he surrounded himself with supreme talent of course, with Alkaloid bandmates Linus Klausenitzer (bass) and Danny Tunker (guitars) and current Triptykon vocalist, V. Santura, adding strength and flair throughout.
The quality of the aforementioned names are an indication of the high expectations we had upon hitting play – and To Where The Light Retreats certainly did not disappoint – and while this could easily be labelled as the next Alkaloid album, there was enough individual spirit here to distance itself well enough from Grossmann’s day job.
Ophidian I – Desolate [Iceland]
Released: July 16th, 2021 via Season of Mist
Probably the most ‘accessible’ album on this list, Ophidian I‘s Desolate had memorable songs – hidden amongst oodles of obligatory noodle – which is no mean feat in this sub-genre….and therein lay Desolate’s innate appeal.
While impressive enough to stop you in your tracks, the majority of the songs on Desolate still had the power and groove to make you move, offering an accessibility many of Ophidian I‘s peers either steer away from or simply cannot offer.
Tech death at its most flamboyant and most infectious.
Inferi – Vile Genesis [USA]
Released: September 10th, 2021 via The Artisan Era
Inferi’s winning streak continued unabated with the release of their 6th album, Vile Genesis….their clever blend of brutality and melody undiminished as the band proceeded to tear their way through 8 tracks of superbly crafted technical death metal wizardry.
The Black Dahlia Murder of tech death moniker may remain relatively apt but Inferi are so much more than mere plagiarists. With a symphonic element adding layers to their wall of sound – and a songwriting craftsmanship offering ample head-banging moments amongst the blitzkrieg of nimble-fingered dexterity – Vile Genesis succeeded by enthralling and astonishing in equal measure.
Inferi‘s strongest album to date.
Obscura – A Valediction [Germany]
Released: November 19th, 2021 via Nuclear Blast
A Valediction was somewhat of a return to form for these veterans of the tech death scene. With their uber-technical take on Gothenburg melo-death informing 100% of their sound, accusations that Obscura had tempererd their technicality in favour of a more direct approach were understandable. However, we’d wager that making memorable, yet still unfathomably complex music, is an art form….one that Obscura finally mastered with A Valediction.
So, if you’re often turned off by the widdly-wank of tech death (although you probably wouldn’t be reading this list if that was the case!), A Valediction could be considered an ideal gateway album to the scene.
For those of us already entrenched in tech death, A Valediction was simply an outstanding release from one of its most beloved bands.