Becoming the Archetype – Celestial Completion
Release: 2011Mar29 (US)
Label: Solid State Records
There are many reasons to like Becoming the Archetype: they are one of the heaviest and most progressive bands on the Solid State roster; frontman Jason Wisdom is expanding his vocal range, with minimal cleans and rasped backup from new guitarist Daniel Gailey; the band is always willing to experiment musically; and Dan Seagrave was again tapped for the cover art for the first time since their debut, Terminate Damnation. Yet something always detracts, and on Celestial Completion, it’s knowing when and where to cut. Heh, that’s what the mohel said …wait, wrong religion …but does a right one really exist?
That’s neither here nor there, so let’s move on. First off, the intro track “The Resonant Frequency of Flesh” is more of a song in and of itself, and is surprisingly effective at setting the tone (though the needle drop is kinda stupid). Themes hover around death, though more toward transcending mortality. Quite literally as I typed that, I received a promo for the new Primordial album Redemption at the Puritan’s Hand, which is especially odd considering that A.A. Nemtheanga calls this latest release their ‘death’ album (albeit from a much different perspective). Me and coincidence have a funny relationship.
“The Magnetic Sky” is a capable first song proper. BTA demonstrate their greatest vocal dynamics and control over their instruments. It flows well without being overly flashy and knows when to finish. Now here’s the thing about “Internal Illumination”—it’s the bands heaviest song to date, complete with blast beats and deep growls—and one of my favorites on the album …until we creep past 3:39 for 90 more seconds into an ever-slower grinding halt. It just gets ponderous, dudes. But then “Path of the Beam” gets us pointed back in the right direction, with a more driving rhythm and sweet licks everywhere on the outro.
But “Requiem Aeternam”—the near-thirteen minute centerpiece of this album—is a lot to bear. It’s thankfully divided into three parts, and honestly, the piano lead-in is nice, but just like on Dichotomy, they start reaching too far and grasping little. Do they then bust out some sweet Southern riffage? Oh, yes. Is that a sitar I hear? Well that’s interesting, guys, what else have you got? More blast beats? Please! But that weirdass vocoder sounds like a dimestore version of the Rakshasa demon from their hometown brethren Mastodon‘s Blood Mountain. We meander for a while, and then return to piano five minutes in, before building back to heavy for the last bit. Better to just skip to “Xenosynthesis”, which employs operatic female vocals in a way that doesn’t make me cringe.
More sitar and tabla from Sean Patrick Murphy appear on “Invisible Creature”, which leads into the hot mess of “Cardiac Rebellion”. The gang shouts and trombone come across like some Fishbone knockoff, and just when I got ready to forgive during what I thought was a mellow guitar fade out, they bring the horns back with this skankin’ beat. It just feels too goofy when everything else seems so sincere. And really, between your art directors, the name of the instrumental and the lyrics in the track that follow, you think there was enough name-dropping? Jeez.
Celestial Completion does regain momentum toward the end—so at least they finish strong, if you make it that far. “Reflect/Refract” works well as a whole, but really works in a series of gutpunches in that last minute. And yes, yet another luminescent reference concludes with the anthematic “Breathing Light”. It’s a bit straightforward for my taste, and also drags out for longer than necessary, but is comprised of good elements (like Duck’s drums, for example).
The album title is only half right; they’re still very much celestial, but far from complete. Becoming the Archetype have some decisions to make if they want to live up to their lofty Genesis-inspired name. Oh, as a matter of fact and not fiction, this review has 666 words. Like I said, me and coincidence have a funny relationship.
Try 2, 3, 4, 10
01. The Resonant Frequency of Flesh
02. The Magnetic Sky
03. Internal Illumination
04. Path of the Beam
05. Music of the Spheres: Requiem Aeternam Part I
06. Elemental Wrath: Requiem Aeternam Part II
07. Xenosynthesis: Requiem Aeternam Part III
08. Invisible Creature
09. Cardiac Rebellion
11. Breathing Light