FFO: Inanimate Existence, Spectrum of Delusion, First Fragment (with a little extra chaos)
Santa Fe techdeath outfit Fields of Elysium are back with their second LP, In Ancient Contemplation, and by god I can’t wait for you to hear how incredible it is.
Though admittedly on their part, if you’ve seen FOE live in the last five years or so, you’re already a little familiar with the material.
Unraveling Arcane Dynamics (2008) was a solid but brief introduction to FOE’s musical prowess, though we can admit that the production left more to be desired. Capax Universi (2012) continued the bedlam of cacophony, but seemed to have been steered towards a more melodic sound.
In Ancient Contemplation showcases the maturity and evolution of Fields’ songwriting; whereas Unraveling was heavy, chaotic and extremely technical, In Ancient presents a much more melodic and jazzy selection of songs (moreso than Capax), but the progression and technicality remain static.
As someone who isn’t a musician, I can only imagine how difficult it must be to write epic techdeath, nonetheless techdeath that isn’t solely based on playing the absolute fastest and most complex riffs, solos, bass and drumlines. All of the pieces of instrumentation here compliment each other flawlessly. No part gets sonically buried beneath another, nor do each part stand at such prominence that one is sonically bombarded by a vast array of intricacies.
I love the more ambient instrumental tracks; whereas I find that most of those are just used as space/time filler, “Bedside Dragon”, “On the Meeting of Two Eternities”, and “Asterisk” really help bond the rest of the tracks together, and offer a few respites from the chaotic progression the rest of In Ancient Contemplation offers.
Guitarists Quanah and Daniel do a superb job displaying their skill level, impeccably executing solos, intricate riffs, and displaying a seriously outstanding array of musical styles within a single composition.
I absolutely love the trend of bands incorporating more prominent basslines and tones, and Andre’s riffs are no exception. Though I can’t imagine someone wielding a bass as mighty as his would allow himself to be, perhaps overpowered, by the other string musicians in the band. Andre’s also turned in the towel in regards to a vocal range, and instead has chosen a consistent but still impressive low/mid range growl.
OH AND THE GROUP CLEANS! The pseudo-Gregorian chant/ church choir vibe I get from these are my favourite part. There was once a time when I frowned upon clean singing in death metal, and in a way I still kind of do, but I love how the cleans FOE incorporate only enhance and accentuate the the track- not so much to draw away from everything else that’s going on, but just enough to give it that extra dimensional spice.
Throughout the duration that I’ve had this, I’ve tried to force myself to choose a favourite song. Whereas I love “Papas Perfectas” and “The Whip or the Carrot”, and the instrumental tracks, I feel it impossible to pick just one. I am smitten with each song equally, as they all offer something different yet still captivating.
I don’t always “love at first listen”, but I can’t help but be smitten with every aspect of this record. I was prepared to hand our pals in Contrarian the award for my favourite release this year, but Fields of Elysium are forcing me to reconsider. Certainly, their musicianship and potential should not go unnoticed nor underestimated.
(THIS is what I’m talking about)
Oh, I suppose I should shout out Augustine Ortiz and Dave Otero for absolutely nailing the mixing/ mastering while I’m here.
Though it’s taken the Fields of Elysium camp a little while to release their second LP, the time taken has certainly been worth the wait. I can only hope you’ll grow to love this album as much as I have.
In Ancient Contemplation is out July 1! Preorders are live! And these dudes are self releasing it, so doubly make sure you snag yourself a copy, some shirts, do that whole bundle thingy, and snag that on bandcamp while you’re at it. The FOE camp has put together some sweet stuff, including a super duper limited Escher-esque 3D wooden logo and all over print tees!
Oh, and if you’re in the area, be a doll and catch their CD release show, still TBA, because hell knows I wish I could be there.