Equipoise
Demigurgus

The definition of equipoise is basically ‘a balance of purposes or interests’, and while there is certainly a balance of interests in this tech death supergroup…..nay mega group, the balance of purpose is a little left behind.

I’m not familiar with Nick Padovani and his other primary group Virulent Depravity, but he has enough sway and /or influence and friendships to form an Avengers like assembly of tech death superheroes; Hugo Doyon-Karout (Beyond Creation) on fretless bass, vocalist Steve Boiser (labelmates Inferi, Ashen Horde, ex Vale of Pnath, ex Enemy Reign), Chase Westermorland ( ex-Burning the Masses,  ex-Abigail Williams, ex-Hate Eternal, ex-The Faceless, as well as former live session drummer for labelmates Enfold Darkness, Aegaeon, Whitechapel and Fallujah), and 2 other guitarists in Sanjay Kumar (live session for Vale of Pnath and Cognitive) and arguably the biggest name of all in Phil Tougas ( Chthe’ilist, First Fragment, Serocs).

Phew. Well, if you have heard any of those bands and are up to date on many of The Artisan Era’s other recent releases, and wonder what a mix of all of those bands sounded like. This is for you. The problem is, is that is often sounds like they are all playing together at the same time.

If you thought Tougas’s other project First Fragment was noodly, buckle up buttercup, as Equipoise is a completely over the top shred fest that to many will come across as overindulgent and complete technical wankery with little or no soul. And while I’m a little inclined to agree at times, as there’s in no denying the sheer level of skill on display here, but the difference between this release from this supergroup and say First Fragment or even Gorod, is that those bands had some memorability and staying power amid the technical delivery, on Demigurgus other than being impressed with the musicianship, there’s little else to recall.

When the intro “Illborn Augury” started, I thought I recognized the style and keyboards, recalling Scholomance, and lo and behold the ivory tinkling scattered around the album (often a highlight also) are from Jimmy Pitts of Scholomance (one of The best bands from the golden years of The End Records), and from there it’s a 63 minute, 14 song (5 from the band’s 2016 EP), exhaustive, three guitar pronged barrage of completely dizzying, neoclassical, tech death metal based on the anime Full Metal Alchemist, with a few acoustic, flamenco, instrumental or symphonic interludes thrown in to (thankfully) break it up.

It’s hard not to admire Westmoreland’s drum work and especially Doyon-Karout’s fretless bass work which some how manages to take center stage amid the trio of excellent guitarists, but I don’t remember  single song or riff. Not one note. That’s not to say I’m not enjoying it while its playing, it’s hard not to get swept away by the likes of finger numbing early tracks like “Sovereign Sacrifices”, “Alchemic Web of Deceit”, “Sigil Insidious” and “Suit of My Flesh” which  all make Necrophagist look like Six Feet Under. 

The album’s longest cut and mid point “Dualis Flamel”, is the nearest thing to a memorable track with a slower symphonic tinged closing few minutes, and after another instrumental, its back to it with “Waking Divinity”, which while the nearest thing to a catchy or memorable track, but frankly, it’s too little too late. Then another interlude and “Squal of Souls”, “Cast Into Exile” (with one of the few more ‘playful’ riffs) and “Ouroburic” end the album as it started with complete and  unrelenting shredding and noodly overload., and by this point,  the songs bleed together even more and my brain has melted, and you can take that as good and bad.

I get the goal here: assemble a team of North American tech death luminaries and create something special. But somewhere along the line, the truly brilliant skill trumped the clinical, sterile song writing and the end result while impressive for musical aficionados and the like, it never quite comes together as a cohesive, memorable album, but more of a slightly self indulgent display of skill.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by E. Thomas
April 8th, 2019

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