The Zenith Passage

California’s The Zenith Passage returns with their second full-length album Datalysium.  It has been seven years since their debut album Solipist was released.  I was very much impressed with their debut full-length.   These guys have an incredibly progressive and mechanical approach to technical death metal. This is the second metal blade album I have heard this year produced by Dave Otero (Cephalic Carnage, Nightbringer, Khemmis).  His top-notch mixing and mastering are on full display here.

Wasting zero time in turning the knobs up to eleven with the first track, “Axiom of Terror” which starts with a slow fade into absolute chaos.  The fretboard work of Justin Mckinney and Christopher Beattie is insanely locked in and the builds into breakdown sections are fun to listen to. The use of synth on this track is quite well thought out and executed.  “Algorithmic Salvation” is my favorite track on the album.  If you could envision a mix of Nihility era Decapitated mixed with Archspire this might be what that may sound like. The meticulousness of sharp picking, catchy vocal lines, and superb drumming is on the top shelf here.

The vocal performance of Derek Ryndquist is outstanding.  He does an awesome job tying the room in together so to speak. As the album progresses the track arrangements get quite a bit longer.  It should also be noted that Mckinney was a touring guitarist for Soreption.  “Lexicontagion” is another fine example of The Zenith Passage playing to their strengths.  The verse sections have a lot going on as far as heaviness and use of harmony.  After this one the rest of the tracks get a bit longer and as such the arrangements get a bit crazier but still within their style.

“Synaptic Depravation” is probably the most Allan Holdsworth inspired of the tracks presented with this effort.  The bass work of Brandon Griffin makes its presence felt here.  “Deletion Cult” opens with an instrumental synth part then goes full out blast beat warfare mixed with fretboard gymnastics personified.  The Breakdown at around the three-minute mark has me headbanging in my car.  “Divinertia 1” and “Divinertia 2” might be the most ambitious part of the album breaking into a bit of a sub-concept towards the end of the album.  “Divinertia 1” is quite unique in how they establish the main groove.  They build it and then break it up and then repeat.  “Divinertia 2” takes off a bit where the first part ends and continues a similar type of swaying groove that makes this whole section awesome.

“Automated Twilight” as a nice somber clean tone vibe with a spoken word part with flange added.  The break here is a good spot for it on the album.  I also was not expecting clean vocals.  Clean vocals that are tolerable and work with the rest of the song.   The album ends with the title track “Datalysium” which may be the most epic track on the album.  Overall, this is one of the tightest and best-performed albums I have heard in 2023.  This will wind up in my top ten at the end of the year.   If you have not pre-ordered it yet, get on it.


[Visit the band's website]
Written by Nick K
August 4th, 2023


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