(DGR unexpectedly fell into the self-titled debut album by the “insanely talented” German technical death metal band Metasphæra, released near the end of March, and as you’ll see from the following review, he’s damned glad he did.)
There are a few patterns that have developed throughout my years writing for this site. One of the main ones occurs during the bit of a lull that leads up to May’s sort of panicked backfilling of the site as we launch fully into festival season, a lull wherein we have the ability to fall down a whole lot of rabbit holes.
Much as we as a site will shovel song after song in front of you as we discover music that we think might perk a few ears, so too do we enjoy having that done to us – somewhat – and one of those main methods comes from entering the whirling vortex of metal across social media and seeing what it kicks back at us.
YouTube is often one such source, and such was the case with German tech-death group Metasphaera (typeset Metasphæra) and their self-titled album.
It wasn’t even a trip into the latest storm of music videos that seems to launch every weekend now – especially given Bandcamp Friday’s chokehold on publicity – but just the album art appearing in the recommendations while watching the twenty-six-minute Final Fantasy XVI gameplay video that Sony put out.
The algorithm is often the dumbest fucking thing on the planet, but every once in a while it’ll pull off something miraculous. In its desperation and hands thrown in the air style of content vomit, we’ve landed ourselves a pretty damned good one with Metasphaera, a group whose music is so unrelentingly precise and polished that they slot in perfectly with thier tech-death peers.
Of course it must be mentioned early on that Metasphaera count some insanely talented musicians in their ranks. One of those who makes their presence known very early in Metasphaera‘s full-length is Hugo Doyon-Karout – whom you may recognize as the gentleman currently handling the bass work for tech-death group Beyond Creation. The tale of the tape here is that there is a lot of fretboard fireworks happening across Metasphaera‘s fifty-eight minutes, with guitarists Tom Heckmann – also handling vocals – and Matthias Wolf, former guitarist Egor Gorelik, and Hugo often following each other like professional choreographers who’re frighteningly in sync.
There’s plenty of fretless bass wanderings alongside wall-of-note style guitar solos and leads, built around a solid foundation of straightforward tech-death blasting and melodeath style riffing that should hold plenty of appeal to those who have enjoyed Obscura‘s works throughout the years. Metasphaera wrote some expansive songs and then used all of those aforementioned elements to fill them to the brim, with most of the songs here resting comfortably around seven-to-twelve minutes – especially when accounting for intro track “Fall” and its minute or so of symphonic intro.
“Exit” seems to cycle back around and around on itself, so if the opening assault of that song grips you by the throat then you can be assured you’ll get that specific movement at least four more times throughout its seven-and-a-half-minutes before the band begin to work on tying that song into its follower.
It is commendable that Metasphaera do their damndest to try and tie every song together on this release, even if it’s something as simple as a quiet instrumental bridge, so that no song fully starts and stops. It is written to be one complete journey, so that the final ferocious vicissitudes that close out “Exit” almost seem like they should’ve been the beginning of “Einheit” following, save for that song being a more rhythmic journey than the Ophidian I – esque wall-of-guitar assault that was the album’s opening salvo.
It is songs like “Einheit” and “Katharsis“, though, when you’ll find the band at their most brutally death metal in Metasphaera‘s opening phases, with plenty of guitar chug and double-bass hammering to keep things well seated in the realm of heavy. Then again, the entire album is also sung in German, so this could very well be an album of rattling off the weekly shopping list and we wouldn’t notice, because every time the band decide to send their music careening down the side of a cliff it’s exciting.
It’s how you can have songs like the two-part “Realitäten” manage to hold attention: Every time it seems like Metasphaera are starting to wander a little too much in their quest for expansiveness, they’ll launch something interesting and exciting to keep you wrapped up in what they’re doing. The whole middle section of the first part of “Realitäten” could stand to get paragraphs of its own, as it has the band leaping from knives-out style precision into ethnic-intrumentations making you feel like you’re lost in a bazaar and right into the sort of low-end guitar hammering that the group brutalizes with.
Much like a mechanic who can stare at the same configurations of car parts over and over again and know exactly what each one does, you’ll recognize a lot of the tech-death familiarity tearing its way through Metasphaera‘s self-titled. However, in the same way those parts can all be the same ‘thing’, those same ‘things’ can often be approached and assembled in such different ways that you’ll have vast differences between your daily commuter and the super car that terrifies the fuck out of you the moment you step on the accelerator.
Metasphaera put in an admirable effort on this release, crafting a journey that has as much room for progressive antics as it does for showmanship. You can be wowed by the sheer deftness with which the band approach their music but it’s also interesting to see how one song moves into the next one and how the band tie the whole thing together so that the hefty fifty-eight-minute entry fee doesn’t seem like that much time when listening. There’s always fireworks going off somewhere.
The group’s first full-length is an impressive one and should hold plenty of appeal for those who like their music sounding like a dynamo set up to spin so rapidly it could melt through the floor.