Saturday, 23 September 2017

Album Review: ORIGIN – Unparalleled Universe

OriginHailing from the unlikely locale of Topeka, KS, Origin have been near the top of the death metal scene since their inception, steadily delivering acclaimed albums every few years. It’s been three years since their latest release, and like clockwork, 2017 brings their seventh full-length, Unparalleled Universe.

Infinitesimal To The Infinite” is textbook Origin, from the sweeping lead riff to the lightspeed verses. It’s all over in 2 ½ minutes, but packs all the more punch for its brevity. “Accident And Error” runs off a back-and-forth between Jason Keyser’s deep growls and lead guitarist Paul Ryan’s higher shrieks, and the phenomenal drumming of John Longstreth. It adapts a sort of lurching groove as things continue, and the change keeps the song fresh. “Cascading Failures, Diminishing Returns” goes darker, adding elements of grind to the mix, although the guitar sweeps have a sinister sort of melody to them. Keyser’s staccato roar fits the song well, giving the runaway instruments a focal point.

Mithridatic” opens with furious drumming from Longstreth and a straight up death metal verse. About a minute in the song veers into old-school thrash territory, merging uncompromising death vocals with a musical charge not far off from Kill ‘Em All-era Metallica. “Truthslayer” is 2 minutes of brutality, pure speed that paradoxically provides an almost doom-metal groove to windmill your hair to near the end. “Invariance Under Transformation” is downright sludgy by Origin‘s standards, with a steady, menacing lurch supported by uniformly excellent vocals from both Keyser and Ryan. The chorus even dabbles in beatdown hardcore, with a dark swing to the guitar riff sure to open up many a mosh pit. “Dajjal” starts with a minute of great instrumental works, then finds itself careening between a rhythmic chug and recklessly fast verses. The more riff-oriented segments work better, but the song packs a whole lot of muscle into another less-than-3-minute track.

Burden Of Prescience” unapologetically conjures classic Megadeth with its thrashy lead riff, and the impressive dual vocals once again lock into a monstrous cadence. The ultra-low-and-slow breakdown doesn’t hit as hard as it could, especially the second time around, but it’s the only iffy moment of the track. “Unequivocal”, unfortunately, flounders. It’s a nearly 10-minute slab of highly skilled technical death metal, but forgets to be much of a song in the process, and with few variations in approach through a track so long, it’s hard to keep paying attention. The album closes with a cover of Brujeria’s “Revolućion”. It’s a bold choice, and Origin do the song more that justice, with Keyser’s throaty growl beefing up the verses, and the personal spin but on the riff by Ryan recalls just enough Tom Morello to emphasize the political nature of the tune.

Unparalleled Universe maintains Origin‘s dominance over technical brutality, while blending in more melodic musical influences. It’s precisely the moments that ease up just a little, where they embrace elements of thrash and doom metal, that make this album shine, however. “Mithridatic”, the first half of “Burden Of Prescience”, “Invariance Under Transformation”, and “Accident And Error” are some of the best tracks Origin have penned, letting the painfully harsh dual vocals convey the band’s aggression while the instruments crank out tasty riffs. It’s a sound that works extraordinarily well for Origin, and makes this a must-hear album for even casual fans.

About Randy Shatkowski

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