Review : Equipoise - Demiurgus by Toiletovhell
Updated: Jun 18, 2020
Via Toiletovhell : "Equipoise: my favorite tech death band, dolphin/horse hybrid, and equine steroid. If you’re not familiar with the band, the short version is that it’s made up of a bunch of dudes who are ridiculously good at music and like playing fast. Their debut EP was already pretty impressive, and Demiurgus represents three years of expansion and refinement of that material. Strap yourselves in, because this album is a doozy.
Intro track “Illborn Augury” sets the stage with a melancholy piano arpeggio, breaking into a series of flashy (yet tasteful) solos and breaking intro track convention by not being entirely pointless. It’s “Sovereign Sacrifices” that gives you your first taste of what the album truly has to offer, though, exploding in a flurry of warring instruments with incredible intensity. The guitars are engaged in a near-constant duel with each other, held together by a powerful upfront bass attack and an array of synths that ranges from backing strings to twinkling piano. If Serocs has a melodic counterpart, this is surely it; the only other band that I can think of that really sounds like this is First Fragment (which is fitting- all three bands share a member).
The absurd pace set by “Sovereign Sacrifices” is the standard for the album, but it’s not a constant. Spanish guitar interludes pop up a couple times and always at the perfect time; it keeps things from becoming completely overwhelming, and they’re really well integrated into the overall sound, particularly at the end of “Cast Into Exile.” A couple short interludes perform a similar function, and like they intro, they actually serve a purpose here. There are a couple swung parts that immediately call Gorod to mind, and “Squall of Souls” has a groovy, spacey prog feel driven by 9th chords and sliding melodies. One doesn’t typically expect a hyper-shred album to have a ton of variety, but it’s one of Demiurgus’ greatest strengths. Unfortunately, that does make the homogeneity of some of the riffs in the album’s front half stand out that much more, but that’s more than made up for by the time it’s over.
My god, though, the performances are astounding; if you want to hear people doing cool shit with their instruments, this is the album for you. The band’s three guitarists each have a very distinct style of playing and lead tone, keeping the solos fresh and unique. The keys further drive home my belief that more tech death bands need actual keyboardists, as they provide a ton of texture and yet more counterpoint that wouldn’t have been there otherwise. Far from simply blasting from start to finish, the drums have some sweet riffs themselves; I find myself paying less attention to drum lines these days, but this kept me thoroughly engaged. The real star of the show here is the bassist, and given how prominent he is in the mix, the band seems to be aware of this as well. Hugo Doyon-Karout’s performance on this album is entirely unrestrained, often taking the role of driving instrument over the guitars; it makes his work on the last Beyond Creation album look almost comically tame in comparison.
From a purely rational perspective, Demiurgus is an excellent album for those already tech-inclined. This probably won’t be converting any nonbelievers to the genre, and I suspect casual listeners might have a hard time keeping up with the breakneck speed. But if melodic tech death and extreme virtuosity sound like a good time to you, then you’ll be hard pressed to find something out there better than this. The album releases tomorrow, March 8th, on The Artisan Era (available on Bandcamp as well). Be sure to show Equipoise some sweet Toilet love on Facebook as well." 5/5
Originally written by Spear for Toiletovhell