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Artist: Becoming the Archetyoe
Label: Solid State Records
Time: 10 tracks / 43:17 minutes

Becoming the Archetype (BTA) is a band I have always respected more than enjoyed. Both of their previous records, debut Terminate Damnation and sophomore The Physics of Fire were full of epic technical death/thrash, with some classical flourishes to keep it interesting. The problem is that the band favored riffs over songs and technicality over catchiness, leading to both of these records being impressive at first, but monotonous after the first few tracks. Repeated listening brought out the nuances of the band's sound, but the need for a producer who would rein them in was always apparent.

Enter Devin Townsend, guitarist and vocalist for the critically acclaimed Strapping Young Lad, unquestionably the ideal producer for BTA. Under his direction, the band has taken many steps, taking them from impressive to truly great. 

The first noticeable difference is the relative shortness of the songs. Instead of writing epics filled with many riffs, the band has tightened their craft, keeping their technicality but also focusing on crafting memorable songs in their own right. Also gone are the annoying, short instrumental interludes, limited only to one ("St. Anne's Lullaby") on this disc. Instead, each song includes progressive elements making them more interesting. Note, for example, the extended piano outro on opener "Mountain of Souls" and the amazing Jazz(!) breakdown halfway through "Deep Heaven." Also improved greatly are the vocals. Devin is a fan of layering, and in doing this he breaks some of the monotony Jason Wisdom's delivery, even making him sound like a death metal choir on closer "End of the Age!" Very cool.

Lyrically the album is somewhat based on C.S. Lewis' "Space Trilogy." This also helps focus the album. Though Dichotomy is not a proper concept record, it does often discuss the disconnect between humanity and technology, and what having a soul truly means.

The part where all of this connects to prove that the band have moved forward is the jaw dropping "How Great Thou Art." Taking a well known hymn, the band makes it their own, including all of their trademarks in its four and a half minute running time, but without sounding schizophrenic in its execution. A lot of bands have modernized old hymns in recent years, but I challenge you to find another like this! Truly, Becoming the Archetype have taken their game to the next level, not only providing their greatest album, but one of the best metal records of the year.

Noah Salo


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