Equipoise – Demiurgus (The Artisan Era)Sunday, 3rd March 2019
Usually, when the phrase ‘more is more’ is used, the excesses of a genre like symphonic metal come to mind. It’s a tricky place to operate in, as some bands end up bloating a runtime and plunking in songs without purpose, or putting entirely too much into the songs themselves. But some bands know exactly how to run with it and make something decadent yet masterful. Tech death has started to have this problem as well. In fact, many will look at Equipoise and immediately toss them off because of it – case in point with the 24 solos included the song “Dualis Flamel.” But to do so would be a grave mistake.
While it may initially seem daunting, listeners with an ear for the genre are going to eat their hearts out over Demiurgus. There’s a ton of stuff going on at any given moment, but the more that one listens to it the more that the band’s attention to detail (and musical proficiency) come to light. The weaving in of melodic, progressive, and atmospheric moments often including flamenco/classical guitar, as well as piano and synth embellishments really does a lot to offset the potential fatigue. Interludes can be filler material, but in this case, each of them gives the album more flavor and gives you a second to catch your breath. But that’s not really the meat & potatoes of the album.
What ultimately ends up the make or break point for the album is the dizzying complexity of the riffs and solos, all of which are frequently being done at bonkers speed. The way it’s pulled off is nothing short of exhilarating, and there’s always something you can pick out that simply tickles your ears in the best way possible. It’s intricate, but ultimately digestible in nature – be it Hugo Doyon-Karout’s pleasantly audible fretless bass work (some may initially find this tone initially odd, but it really works with a good set of headphones), Stevie Boiser’s monstrous vocals, or a flashy solo that leads into another equally flashy solo (of which a slew of all-star guests also join in). The aforementioned “Dualis Flamel” and “Cast into Exile” really go all-out in these areas, and you can’t help but have a smile on your face when you really dig into it.
A full conceptual album based on Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood, precision songwriting with excellent flow and useful interludes, a labyrinth of progressive and technical flourishes, a polished production that you can drill down and dissect everything, and a supergroup operating at maximum capacity sums up Demiurgus. It’s clear the band operated with no restrictions on themselves, instead taking their grandest ambitions and running with them. Ringleader Nick Padovani deserves some accolades (as do the surrounding members) for making this album something that takes the genre standards and turns them into something that stands out in a more unique manner. Though it may require a bit of patience on behalf of the listener, Demiurgus is nothing short of a masterclass effort in extreme metal.