Inanimate Existence
The Masquerade

California’s Inanimate Existence has been releasing quality albums for a few years now, but never seems to quite break into the discussion of absolute top-tier tech death with say, First Fragment, Gorod, Obscura, and such. Even when they had Riley McShane (Continuum, Alleageaon) in their ranks back in 2014, they were juuuuuust on that cusp.

Now, that really should change with The Masquerade, their third effort on perfect label fit, The Artisan Era, as this album should be ( I know its only mid 2022) , along with Exocrine’s Hybrid Suns and GreyLotus‘s Dawnfall, one of the very best tech-death albums of 2022.

Now, I only took a cursory look back into past albums I own like 2019s Clockwork or 2017s Under a Melting Sky, where the trio locked into their current lineup,  but it’s safe to say it’s just as good, if not better. And if you listen to any other recent The Artisan Era bands like Aethereus, GreyLotus, Arkaik, Inferi, The Devils of Loudun etc, you know what you are getting here; absolutely top-notch tech-death metal with stellar musicianship, a hint of progression, some keyboards, and a continued HEAVY late Death era vibe, though modernized and more intense.

From the gorgeous opener “Endless Waves” to the furious closer “Ending the Ritual”, two absolutely stunning bookend tracks, the album is 40 minutes of just perfect modern tech death. It has a perfect balance of tech-death skill, memorability, catchiness and proggy breaks and elements (mainly keyboards). And while certainly tech death in every aspect, it’s delivered with a crystalline, smooth, aura, rather than full-on hyper stuttering, jagged riffs, or playful jaunts (i.e.Gorod). I get a bit of a Fallujah vibe with the keyboards, lead solos, and ethereal mood.

In particular, other standout tracks like “Wandering White Halls” and “Return to the Dream” really imbue that latter Death era given a modern tech-death sheen with their more controlled lurch and shimmering leads. But the trio can crank up the intensity as well as heard on the likes of “Heart of the Inferno”.

Along with the upcoming, stunning GreyLotus debut, The Masquerade is yet another winner for The Artisan Era, who are pretty much the best tech death label going right now.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
June 29th, 2022

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