Released: 2015, Self-released
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
Quebec, and the Montreal area in particular, long have stood as Canada's foremost breeding ground for technical death metal, thanks to the likes of Gorguts, Cryptopsy, Augury, Neuraxis, etc. But they are by no means the exclusive home, as Ottawa upstarts Antlion prove with their progressive-minded tech-death debut.
Antlion's approach actually focuses more on the technical/progressive elements and less on the death metal. Though it certainly is not without its share of heaviness and ferocity, those aspects come in fits and starts, making The Prescient one of the more understated albums of its ilk. Not that that's necessarily a bad thing.
The intricate, jazz-like construction of the material and the meticulous – almost clinical - performances by the band are given plenty of room to shine here, and impress with their finesse and almost delicate hand. A greater proportion of “deathliness” might have made for an a clash in contrasts or simply overpowered the underlying depth and soul – something tech-death is often rightfully accused of lacking - the fellas bring to the table here.
As it is, the balance is just about right. The more combustible sections of “Cycle of Failure” or “A Seer's Legacy” and the blast beats that erupt from “Spire” bring enough aggression and heft to give the songs bite without having them tear out big, meaty hunks. And the scabrous vocals of bassist Adam Pell – who's nimble fingerwork is terrific – ensure that even in its quieter moments, The Prescient never sounds too soft or smooth.
Recorded by drummer Arend Nijhuis and mixed by tech-death vet Zach Ohren, the album's crystal clear sound is almost too clean for its own good, making the band seem a bit rigid – especially since these guys are not big on showy solos or dazzling fits of instrumental dueling, though the free-jazz jam on “The Prescient (Part II)” is pretty cool. As complex and demanding as the songs already are, that's probably just as well, but a few more rough edges here certainly wouldn't have hurt. Still, for fans of bands like Gorod or Obscura, these Great White Northerners are more than worth discovering.