The metal community is always keen to talk about emerging “super groups”, but frequently pass over Equipoise, comprised of some of the underground’s technical elite. By the grace of the metal gods, mastermind Nick Padovani (Virulent Depravity, Kossuth) has managed to recruit a league of truly extraordinary gentlemen; Chason Westmoreland (ex- Hate Eternal, Burning the Masses) anchors the rhythms with his incredible drumwork, Hugo Doyon-Karout (Beyond Creation, Brought by Pain) contributes all of those sultry but complex basslines, and Steve Boiser (Inferi, Tethys, Ashen Horde) offers a stunning rage of vocals. And of course, the techdeath triforce of guitarists, Phil Tougas (First Fragment, Cosmic Atrophy, Chthe’illest), Sanjay Kumar (Wormhole, Perihelion) and Nick himself. Jimmy Pitts (NYN, Eternity’s End) also makes a very huge effort on keyboards and synth for the album.
Alchemic Web of Deceit and Waking Divinity are just two of the singles released so far, be sure to check those out while you’re reading through this- that way you’ll have a much better idea of what we’re talking about here.
(And yes, this is another co review between Vick and Dave! TECH TEAM POWERS ACTIVATE!)
So, where to begin? We’re gonna go on a huge limb and say this is one of the bigger releases of the year. We don’t deny or ignore the band’s talents… we just didn’t know it would be THIS PERFECT. Equipoise is just another huge reason why The Artisan Era is the best up and coming record label (ran primarily by both guitarists Malcom Pugh and Mike Low of Inferi.)
And I think that’s one of my favourite things about this project; everyone brings in such an incredible amount of musical prowess, albeit their own flavour, that it’d be damn near impossible to adequately fill the shoes any one of these dudes would leave behind.
The production is crisp and clean, but not overproduced; each instrument is adequately audible throughout the course of Demiurgus‘ fourteen tracks. However, don’t think for a second that it’s crispness will make it easier to digest. Even listening to this for the n-teenth time, I am still pretty overwhelmed by the sheer amount of *stuff* that’s going on. And it’s over an hour long; ye of short attention span needn’t tread here. Sure, each track is outstanding on their own, but one must listen to the whole thing to really grasp the brilliance of the entirety. This record was certainly written with a very specific demographic in mind, and Demiurgus leaves me questioning my position in said demographic.
I’ve noticed in my tenure in the death metal scene that bass tends to get buried beneath endless guitar riffs and solos, and the bassist ekes on as the unsung hero of the project. But man, you’d have to be out of your mind to want to bury any of Hugo’s bass lines. And though we have ourselves three stellar guitarists, I find that Hugo’s parts in the mixes are often more prominent than the guitar work in a lot of the tracks. But here’s not to say that he is the focal point of Demiurgus; he is just one out of many, many focal points.
Every string player has a lead, and takes full sonic advantage of their moments. The melodies present on the record are absolutely mind blowing. The classical guitar passages between every few songs are really, really awesome. They offer a brief respite from the absolute barrage of complexities and intricacies that the rest of the album offers.
Steve’s voice really cuts through on the record, I gotta say. He’s very up front, and I sure as hell don’t mind it. Initially, I was unsure how I felt about his vocal style, but I’ve come to appreciate what he brings to the table. He has a solid range, never staying with one tone too long. His voice really brings this band together, no lie.
Nick has done a stellar job of layering his songs….especially on “Dualis Flamel”. Not just that wild guitar solo section the middle….but very present keyboards (thanks to Pitts), which is sweet. And, the leads are pretty good! When the keys aren’t too busy shredding, they add a lot to the atmosphere and melody of the Equipoise songs creating a more than unique atmosphere for a technical death metal band.
There are so many guitarists I can barely differentiate them all, being there’s like 10 on the record. I’m pretty sure every guitarist in the band had a lead in the solo section for “Dualis Flamel” the whole song is a wild adventure. Nick really worked hard on the album and his hard work payed off recruiting some of the genre greats who respect and enjoy his music. He’s gotten his band off the ground and with such a great start only makes you wonder how great the second album will be. The melody in the leads are a beautiful touch, everyone wasn’t shredding faces every lead they had. There’s plenty of melody and feel to go around for days that’ll motivate any guitarist to practice their craft more.
Chason’s drums are extremely impressive on the album. Do I expect any less from a solid drummer? No, but it’s great to hear. Gotta give lots of props to guy who has to change speeds a lot and play really, really fast fills in such a wild sound like Equipoise.
We don’t really know what else people expect from a technical death metal band, but Equipoise really brought their A game here big time. Everyone made a stellar effort, and are really gonna turn some heads here. If they didn’t make a mark with their EP… well this should definitely do it with Demiurgus.
Though I am a sucker for longer tracks to immerse myself in, I think I can safely say that my favourite track is “Suit of My Flesh”. I think it’s the heaviest out of the fourteen tracks, and I can’t help but be pulled in by that opening riff. When you hear it, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. One does not simply turn on this song and instantly headbang. “Ouroboric” is a pretty close second, another perfect example that heaviness doesn’t need to be sacrificed for beauty to be incorporated.
Demiurgus is out March 8, via The Artisan Era. Do yourself a favour and jam those singles, and then jam Equipoise’s EP, Birthing Homunculi. And then read what Nick had to say about the record. And then hop aboard the hype train, we’ll see you aboard. We will update you on the status of Equipoise’s 2019 tour as the information is released. 😉