The Design Abstract – Technotheism
Canada and melodic death metal are becoming somewhat synonymous. As one of the world’s most sparsely populated countries for its size, they sure do produce a lot of great bands. There are two gentlemen of Ontario who go by the name of The Design Abstract. The band/project was formed with a single goal: to create a blend of industrial-influenced symphonic metal that had never been done before. Their latest attempt at this objective, manifests itself in their new album “Techotheism”.
This is a grandiose affair, full of musicality, technicality, and narrative. Thirteen tracks of symphonic melodic death metal that tells a cyberpunk story of a group of rebels fighting to regain control of Earth. It ranges from technical guitar work to atmospheric electronic passages, and just about everything in between. Does it work? I think it does, but diehard death metal fans may not agree.
The Duo do not have a set method for songwriting. Sometimes guitarist Logan Mayhem sends bassist and vocalist Voiicide an almost complete number, and sometimes it is the other way round. Logan has also written songs in their entirety. They find that working like this works well for the diversity they seek on their albums.
This futuristic tale begins with an instrumental overture. ‘Relentless’ is short but sets the scene for all that is to follow. Thundering percussion is punctuated by harsh, electronic rhythms and staccato string passages. The whole thing is underlined by a chorus of guitars. It is quite clear that there is third, albeit honorary member to this ensemble, in the form of a computer. This is a valuable tool in their arsenal as it opens up almost infinite possibilities. The opening track gives way to the explosive ‘Deus Est Machina’, which the band consider to be their most technical number to date. It features both guttural and clean vocals, as well as guitar solos by Luke Robinson and guest vocals from Megurine Luka.
The Design Abstract – Deus Est Machina (click here if the video does not play)
In ‘The Apotheosis’ the band have apparently attempted to show us everything in their armoury, and all in less than two minutes! Blast beats and synths and a variety of vocal styles are part of this accomplishment. Another short instrumental ‘Among the Stars’ has a pounding beat and with it’s electronic sound, could be something you might hear at a rave. However, it suits the track title perfectly, invoking as it does, a serene feeling of space travel. This leads into ‘The Resistance’, a heavier orchestral number. You certainly can’t accuse them of producing an album of songs that all sound the same, far from it.
The Design Abstract – The Apotheosis (click here if the video does not play)
‘Voidwalkers’ is one of the more mellow tracks on the album, starting with acoustic guitar and synth. Although there are some harsh vocals and an increase in intensity, the song maintains a melodic feel throughout, fading out gently at the end. ‘The Omnisphere’ is another instrumental interlude with a harsher electronic sound, it was inspired by the 2017 Ghost in the Shell film soundtrack. One of the longer tracks, ‘Data Shield Attack’ is symphonic metal with some gutturals. It breaks down in the middle for an extended orchestral bridge and is one of the standout tracks.
‘The Return’ has a driving rhythm, with guttural and clean vocals, and synths backing the whole thing up creating a wall of sound, grandiose in places, complex in others.
The Design Abstract – The Return [Lyric Video] (click here if the video does not play)
‘Elucidate’ is the shortest track at little over one minute. It is an ethereal, sublime interlude leading us into ‘Parallel Projection’, a faster paced number with catchy hook lines. As we approach the end of the album and its story, the penultimate song is the ominous sounding ‘Annihilation’. This is obviously a defining point in the tale and is delivered in a suitably aggressive fashion, but with a subtle ending.
The Design Abstract – Annihilation (click here if the video does not play)
After an atmospheric beginning, final track ‘A World of One’ builds to an upbeat instrumental. It has a relentless, hypnotic rhythm, getting heavier as it progresses. A calming finish to a very varied and enjoyable album.
Increasingly I am finding that these smaller projects are the more interesting and less predictable ones. These two Canadians seem to have bags of ideas and are not afraid to experiment. The whole album has been streamed on YouTube, so go and explore this musical adventure and don’t forget, there’s a story in there as well.
The Design Abstract – Technotheism (Full Album) (click here if the video does not play)
- Relentless (2:05)
- Deus Est Machina (6:33)
- The Apotheosis (1:54)
- Among the Stars (1:36)
- The Resistance (4:37)
- Voidwalkers (3:46)
- The Omnisphere (1:32)
- Data Shield Attack (6:18)
- The Return (3:41)
- Elucidate (1:11)
- Parallel Projection (3:46)
- Annihilation (3:46)
- A World of One (4:00)
Album Length: 44:50