I love hearing something ambitious and genre-bending when a band can follow through on their vision. The Design Abstract is one such band, one that had an idea and put it together almost flawlessly. Their new album “Technotheism” released on January 29th, and I feel I’ve only just begun to process it.
The Design Abstract comes to us from Ontario, Canada. They seem to be one of those shadowy, more reserved groups that doesn’t like to show their faces much, or even their names. As far as a lineup goes, it seems to include Voiicde on bass and vocals, and Logan Mayhem on guitars. There are guest spots, too, but you get the general idea. This group doesn’t want to reveal themselves fully.
This has to be one of the most ambitious combinations of genres I’ve heard in some time. It may have been attempted before, but maybe not to this extent. The band plays what they call “sci fi symphonic melodeath”, combining symphonic metal, progressive melodeath, and what I would call cyberpunk ambient electronic. With stunning precision, the band unleashes giant walls of orchestral melody alongside brutal guitars, otherworldly keys, eager blast beats, and both harsh and clean vox. You will also hear electronic passages that are often combined with a rock vibe, feeling futuristic and maybe a little post-apocalyptic. It’s a great sound, one that instantly fixated my attention.
“Technotheism” is a concept album, one to which I do not know the story. Suffice it to say, the story revolves around comparing divinity and technology, and there is a war of some sort in process. I get the idea that the message here is one of owning our technology rather than allowing it to dominate us: not allowing technology to divide us, but rather to seek unity before unfettered progress. This narrative really works for the band’s chosen sound.
If I were to level any sort of negative criticism, it would be towards the clean vocals, of all things. While Voiicde’s voice is quite good, with something of an alternative bent to it, I do feel like some of the vocal melodies are a little forced into the music. Sometimes the clean vocal lines feel backwards or unsure of where they are going. This isn’t always the case, though, just on a few tracks.
Anyways, “Technotheism” is quite a thrill ride with 13 tracks and 42 minutes of music. It certainly does not outstay its welcome, a smart move whenever a band is attempting something novel. And, you know, this album doesn’t seem to have any weak portions. The beginning, middle, and end are all very strong with memorable moments, which makes it difficult to break down concisely.
You will notice some tracks are significantly shorter than others. Some songs are fully metal, but are like interludes, including “Relentless”, “The Apothesis”, and “The Return”. Other songs are ambient electronic, but I wouldn’t call them interludes because they feel like fully conceptualized songs. These amazing moments would be “Among the Stars”, “The Omnisphere”, and “Elucidate” (which is more orchestrated than electronic). The closer of the album, “A World of One”, is actually a great combination of ambient electronic with metal drive, and it is phenomenal. These electronic portions really sell the narrative and overall feel of the album, and it helps that they seem inspired by some nostalgic properties, such as Blade Runner or Perfect Dark, among others. I absolutely love this aspect of the album.
The album has several meaty tracks, too, where all of the ideas come together. Songs like “Deus Es Machina” and “The Resistance” are heavy and unrelenting, but with melody that slices right through the wall of sound. “Voidwalkers” and “Parallel Projection” are good examples of this, too, only with a bit more musical space. My favorite track on the album, without a doubt, is “Data Shield Attack”. This extraordinary song feels intensely cinematic, starting out with a brutal metallic sound, but soon transitioning into an orchestral, story-telling vibe that is so beautiful. I love the stuttering drums near the end and the massive vision for this song.
The Design Abstract really surprised me with this one. When I saw their description of the sound, I was a little skeptical, but the band has really pulled it off, and with excellence. This album is every bit as diverse, colorful, and epic as I had hoped, and there are jaw-dropping moments galore. I absolutely love this record.
Find The Design Abstract online: