Across all the many sub-genres of extreme and not-so-extreme metal, there’s an upper echelon of technical virtuosity — musicians who, through some combination of genetics, devotion to practice, and experience, are exceptionally good performers.
Across the same range of sub-genres there is also an upper echelon of composers who have a knack for writing songs that not only make an immediate impact but also get stuck in people’s heads and stay there — albeit for differing reasons.
To achieve success it’s not necessary for a band to combine both types of exceptionalism. For example, as the ongoing tech-death arms race demonstrates, some bands do quite well moving at ferocious speeds and demonstrating exceptional dexterity, even when there’s not much more than that on offer. On the other hand, other bands are capable of consistently leaving people humming, head-nodding, and remembering, with music that makes few technical demands.
But when a band not only achieves rarefied heights of technical skill at all positions but also conceives of songwriting ideas that are so far outside the ordinary as to be startling, and memorable for that reason, the results can be truly exceptional.
Which of course brings us to Alkaloid and their new album Numen.