Proggy Tech-y Death Metal
by Chuck Eddy | February 18, 2014
Death metal wasn't quite invented in Florida, but by the late '80s it found a hotter-than-hell home there. Most importantly, maybe, Florida is where death metal bands determined they could also perform complicated math equations, thus chopping off more heads with their chops. Three bands from Florida were instrumental in turning death metal prog. There's Atheist from Sarasota, who put out their first album in 1989 and whom the Encyclopaedia Metallum website classifies as "death/thrash metal with jazz and progressive influences." Cynic, from Miami ("progressive death metal/jazz fusion"), put out their only album for 15 years in 1993 after a half-decade of demos. Finally, there's Florida death metal O.G.'s Death themselves, from Orlando, who followed a zillion or so demo tapes with a 1987 debut album and got fancier a few records down the line.
If the convoluted structures and multitudinous whiplash time signature changes had a precedent, it was the so-called "technical (or progressive) thrash" of a few '80s-born bands: Quebec's Voivod, Germany's Mekong Delta, St. Louis' Anacrusis, Christian Pennsylvanians Believer, and maybe most directly Switzerland's Coroner. Canadian metal critic Martin Popoff also nominates the Austin band Watchtower's 1989 Control and Resistance as "a precursor to Cynic's Focus, both records about the most dizzyingly complicated, technical music school metal ever produced." So each of these seminal prog thrashers earns a spot on this playlist as well, along with sci-fi-obsessed Arizona up-and-comers Vektor, who've carried on their tradition.
But mostly the mix leans toward the deadlier side. Netherlanders Pestilence (whose 1993 album, Spheres, apparently counts as "progressive/jazz fusion"); Quebeckers Gorguts ("technical/avant-garde death metal," the Encyclopaedia says); and Fort Lauderdale's not-much-recorded Hellwitch have been around for a couple decades. But newer tech-deathers like Gnostic from Atlanta, Illogicist from Italy, Exivious from the Netherlands, and Ouroboros from Australia flex their manual dexterity and trigonometry skills as well. Better go put on your neck brace.