Metal is unequivocally a guitar driven genre. No matter what trend is taking hold amongst metalheads or what purists are latching onto; no matter what gimmick or innovation captures the scene. Guitar has always relied on electric guitars as its backbone. And the art of the guitar is extensive and thorough. Players are always crossing new thresholds. There’s no limit on what can be done on a guitar and we see that time and time again. Whether it just be a guitar tone we’ve never heard before, adding more strings, mastering a new technique or blending opposing influences, amongst a myriad of other ways artists hone their craft, there seems to be no end to what the next guy can do next.
Even when mastery is established, it allows the next guy to use another guitarists peak as a stepping stone to the next level. Archspire, as an example, constantly pushes the boundaries on how fast guitarists can play. The art of shred is so prevalent in metal that benchmark bands like Periphery and Animals As Leaders had to innovate techniques, and write increasingly complex guitar parts that had to then be delegated to other guitarists to achieve success. Logical conclusions but also lateral movements within the shred scene. With this being said, plenty of guitarists have achieved some kind of skill ceiling, especially in regards to shred. The constant outdoing and building on each others skills has left a vast landscape that has been poured over and navigated with exponential efficiency.
Now, it may not be possible for a guitarist to blow the lid off the scene anymore. Too much ground has been covered. Especially in regards to “shred”. However, a band like De Lirium’s Order occasionally reminds us that super tight, straight forward shred isn’t tapped out. There’s some wiggle room on the threshold that shred guitarists have reached. And we’ve known about this band for a while. But with seven years between their 2012 effort, Veniversum and Singularity, the band effectively came out of the woodwork. A few of us around the blog always knew of a Finnish virtuoso who embodied the spirit of Chuck Schuldiner and flew around the fretboard with untempered energy. But his return feels triumphant. Being such a formidable guitarist to start with, Jupa Kupiainen appears to have improved. Bolstered by an iconic foundation, Jupa proves his fresh ideas, peerless note choice and technical mastery makes De Lirium’s Order sound like they got away with something they shouldn’t have.
The guitar work on Singularity is phenomenal. It’s in no way the best of all time or super innovative. But it is somewhere close to perfect. Melodies follow complex counterpoints. Bread and butter melodeath riffs aren’t fed into harmony, but rather varying degrees of dissonance. No opportunity is wasted between guitar sections either. When all pistons are firing, the guitar never wastes an oppurtunity to chew the scenery. If the playing wasn’t so comprehensive and near-perfect, it would be utterly dizzying. Instead it’s a never ending barrage of enthralling, unique and creative riffs, solos, runs and transitions. Coloured in by razor sharp guitar tones,
Singularity is ambitious. Despite being a showcase for Jupa’s incredible guitar work. The album is surprisingly varied. It’s ripe with progressive elements like clean vocals, folk instruments and acoustic guitar interludes. Though the elements never feel out of place or forced. In fact the song structures themselves are so accommodating that if this were any other band, it would end up being either an avante-garde experimentation or just super gimmicky progressive death metal. But Singularity dodges these barriers of entry. It’s super solid and the concise runtime means that listening to it is a breeze. The variety, over the top guitar work and energy of the band trying to keep up with the star instrument of each movement allows this album to sit comfortably in the echelons of premium tech-death.
Singularity is out now and available for streaming and purchase on the band’s Bandcamp page.