Inanimate Existence have relatively quickly garnered an enviable reputation as formidable proponents of progressive/technical death metal amongst a burgeoning US scene. Underneath a Melting Sky is the band’s fourth release since they formed in 2010 and is their first as a three piece comprising original members Cameron Porras, Scott Bradley, and Ron Casey. The record is also their debut on new label The Artisan Era.
After 2012’s more experimental Calling from a Dream, which received a somewhat mixed response, Underneath a Melting Sky clearly sees the band visit their heavier roots. Comprising eight tracks totalling thirty six minutes, it’s a clever blend of brutal death metal interspersed throughout with the technical/avant-garde touches that fans have come to both expect and love in equal measure.
There’s no hiding the bands technical prowess as aptly demonstrated by absurdly accomplished opener “Forever to Burn”. This track’s intricate symphonic intro is jaw-droppingly good. The track then launches into the bands trademark frenetic brutality underpinned by layered melodic guitar work which threads through the song nicely. This theme sets the tone for the remaining seven tracks on the album together with bands willingness to experiment as the frequent use of the harp (yes harp!) and ethereal synths throughout the album aptly show. These touches all help tell the narrative of each song and keep the listener enthralled throughout and combined with the brutally heavy sub-plot, provide the record with a near perfect balance.
Despite its relative brevity, there’s so much going on in this album for this reviewer to attempt to cover each track in any depth, or indeed to give each justice. Each song builds purposefully and has its own unique moment from the funky plucked bass break on the opener, the catchy thrash-prog riff on probable album highlight, “The Old Man in the Meadow”, to the mystical acoustic intro on the dark and brooding “The Djinn”, and the monumentally epic lead work on final track “Formula of Spores”. You are left both bruised and enthralled in equal measure.
The production is crisp, accentuating the musicianship on display but yet not losing any heaviness in the process which is quite a feat.
Another nod must also go the old school fantastical cover art by Justin Abraham which draws you in magnetically. Resistance would be futile, with Underneath a Melting Sky, Inanimate Existence have again set the bar for accomplished and polished technical death metal.
Underneath a Melting Sky in out August 25 on The Artisan Era.