Cognizance – Upheaval (Prosthetic)

Monday, 20th September 2021
Rating: 8/10

After a wealth of smaller releases, Cognizance finally unleashed their first full-length in 2019 with Malignant Dominion.  Being able to blast out tech flourishes over a few songs is one thing, but the band stepped up to the plate and delivered a more varied offering without sacrificing their identity.  Upheaval continues that same process to just as much success, as the band incorporates some more melodic tweaks into their aggressive and intricate formula.

One thing that Cognizance has stood for from the start is the ability to absolutely scorch with full-speed fury and technical wizardry.  But the band can also acknowledge that too much emphasis on either can cause things to become either boring or completely sterile.  Thus, Upheaval strengthens their base by injecting a number of more playful melodies and solos into the fray.  The melodic touch is the most noticeable addition this time around, and it really aids tracks like “The Mouth That Cannot Speak” by grounding it at times, apart from some glorious sounding speed runs and dizzying musicianship.  Two-part song “Syntheticus” tickles the ear with some impressive tech dancing, offering high-speed melodies and jackhammering drums, but punishing slowdowns ensure that the track(s) never lose their death metal identify.  The fact that they keep the ‘meat’ in the guitars is a huge boon for them, with far too many tech acts sounding cold and unattached – Cognizance go straight for your throat and you can feel every riff take a swing at you.  Lastly, at a compact 33-minutes, it avoids listener fatigue and can really come out and dive into the aggression without worry of it starting to sound too similar (the melodic aspect is huge here too, see closer “Aeon Sickness” to see how they end with all cylinders ablaze).

Cognizance brings all parts of an effective tech death release to the table on Upheaval.  Brutality first and foremost, with intriguing melodies and whirling technical chops ready to augment the band at a moment’s notice.  Visceral yet cerebral.

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