Canadian Technical Death Metallers Archspire are bringing their Tech Trek Europe Tour to Glasgow. It’s been just over three years since these madmen were last in the city and the Cathouse is rammed with eager attendees.
France’s Benighted hit the stage with a grindcore-flecked death metal attack. Song structures bristle with infinite brutality and an abundance of varied arrangements and tempos that keep the songs fresh. In 2020, the four-piece released their ninth album Obscene Repressed, which receives solid promotion tonight with the likes of The Starving Beast and Brutus. The band’s inventory includes earthquake-inducing blastbeats, blisteringly scathing guitars and psychotic growls, enough to satisfy the most demanding headbangers. Combined with a spirited stage presence, Benighted are an unbridled force of live death metal.
Tech death can often become meaningless riff salad, with songs indistinguishable from each other. Australia’s Psycroptic evades this description. David Hayley‘s guitar efforts are more melodic compared to most tech death acts, which makes imprints their tracks in the listener’s head. Vocalist Jason Peppiatt is absent and usual replacement vocalist Jason Keyser from Origin is behind the mic on this tour. The quartet’s appearance exclusively focuses on the latter end of their discography, including last year’s Divine Council album. The likes of A Fool’s Errand, (Ob)servant and The Water of All whip up the crowd into a mosh pit that perplexedly transforms into a conga line. Keyser is a worthy replacement for Peppiatt and finds it effortless to motivate the crowd into moshing more enthusiastically. Intricate riffs and rigorous drumming keeps eyes on the stage, delivering a highly skilled death metal exhibition.
Finally, headliners Archspire kick off proceedings with Remote Tumour Seeker. The sheer fury and energy of these Canadians is nothing short of mesmerising. With crazed time signatures, breakneck tempos and a clinical approach to savagery, it feels like the band is composed of machines. Even Oliver Rae Aleron‘s growls feel technical; he delivers them at a pace quicker than an organic tongue can waggle. Guitarist Dean Lamb and Tobi Morelli craft songs with catchy hooks, crushing rhythms and thoughtful melodies. Jared Smith‘s bass plays a key role in Archspire and certainly isn’t relegated to the back as bassist frequently are.
Tonight’s setlist is exclusively selected from their last two full-lengths, Bleed the Future and Relentless Mutation. Abandon the Linear, Human Murmuration, Calamus Will Animate and Involuntary Doppelgänger deservedly receive rapturous responses from the fans. Like their music, their live show discerns itself from a generic gig. Aleron is armed with a bubble gun that he shoots at the crowd. Mosh pits are mandatory for the entire set, but proceedings turn left when Aleron throws a Twister mat to the crowd for a game that shfits into another pit. Amazingly, he retrieves it in one piece too. Drone Corpse Operator gives the Cathouse one final opportunity to go wild. The performance flies by and it feels too soon for Archspire to leave, but time just transpired that rapidly. Technical musicians are often criticised for putting on boring performances where they just stare at their instruments. Archspire prove that tech doesn’t have to be tepid with their amusing showcase.