AHTME - The Demonization
Unique Leader Records
Technical Death Metal
10 songs (39' 30")
Release year: 2016
Unique Leader Records
Reviewed by Andy

Kansas City-based death metal band AHTME, despite The Demonization being their debut LP, are not newcomers; they've been playing the local scene for the past ten years as The Roman Holiday, and changed names right around the time they got signed. The Demonization had never officially seen the light of day, though they released it independently. Its groove-dominated, low-melody tracks and incredibly precise drumming is a good listen for the tech death fan.

Blinding riff-and-fill speed forms the overall sound of the whole album. The individual songs don't end very quickly, mostly because of the jerking stops and starts that riddle them, but Jordan Plumer's inhumanly fast fills provide a constant puzzle for the listener ("wait, what did he do just a minute ago?") that supports riffing that makes heavy use of the lower strings with mathematical precision. That should not, however, be construed to mean that this is another tech death band that allows boring wankery to take over -- you can't imagine their listeners sitting at a live show with their arms folded trying to figure out the intricacies of, say, Trainwreck. The emphasis on groove, and pairing occasional less-technical death metal passages with Brent Turnbow's hoarse growl, keeps each song from losing its way -- and throwing a little eBow-powered guitar into the one-and-a-half-minute Synaptic Disconnection just reminds one of the restraint the band is able to show in the cause of making their songs more listenable.

Quick-changing time signatures or not, there's a clear rhythm and melody to headbang to, tossed in every so often to keep everyone on the same page. But the band isn't unwilling to jump into less comfortable territory; the title track, my favorite, combines a rare guitar solo with an even rarer bass breakdown, plus some nifty two-guitar duets along the lines of old Cynic tracks. And for every moment when one assumes that the band might settle down and just turn out a run-of-the-mill album-filler, which I'm sure they could turn their hands to, they erupt in furious arpeggios at the bottom of their string range, or dump a hastily cut-off solo behind a rough-hewn wall of rhythm, like a mugging victim being dragged off stage left by his assailant, as they do on Humanity Laid to Rest, another I really enjoyed.

This is a debut from a band that has spent a lot of time in a hard school before getting signed, and they prove to be incredibly good at what they do. Anyone who likes Decapitated ought to find this one particularly enjoyable.

Killing Songs :
The Demonization, Humanity Laid to Rest
Andy quoted 84 / 100
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