Ophidian I: Solvet Saeclum

Icelandic tech-deathsters prove a little too cold

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Death metal’s dramatic ramp-up in technicality since the emergence of Gorguts, Cryptopsy et al may, in some cases, have upped the level of brutality in accordance, but the visceral edge frequently runs the risk of being blunted due to the lack of space between punches.

It’s a trap Ophidian I seem to hover right on the edge of. At times, their furious fretwork does exactly what it’s supposed to, landing a high number of gut blows per minute. At others, the frenetic riffage lacks a little humanity, becoming a touch sterile, however accomplished the playing remains.

There’s no doubt these Icelanders can play the balls off their instruments, but they can’t quite translate the intricacy and intelligent, varied songwriting into as much inflicted pain as you’d like. That said, Solvet Saeclum is anything but monotonous, with some clever pace changes and the occasional calm in the storm – such as the weird end of Zone Of Alienation – which make this a more interesting experience than it might otherwise have been. A promising debut album that needs just a little more bite.