The Southern California Death Metal scene is clouded in dirt, filth, and brutality, channeling an overwhelming majority of Brutal/Old School-based Death Metal acts. Within its depths reign Ruin, Encoffinized, and Gorified to name a few, and with the aid of Church of the 8th Day booking underground shows, the underground metal scene is able to thrive vigorously. Yet, seven hours north of the LA scene, one would find a completely different face of Death Metal. Northern California has been a breeding ground for a variety of Technical Death Metal acts such as Deeds of Flesh, Alterbeast, and Continuum for some time. Naturally, the Tech-Death resurgence of late has spawned quite a few new bands and has further driven the veterans into an uncharted terrain of technicality. Inanimate Existence, however, are essentially caught in between the two titles. Having formed eight years ago, the trio have released four studio records, and are on the brink of releasing their newest effort, entitled Clockworks. The band has also gone through a variety of formation changes since 2011, leaving drummer Ron Casey to be the sole original member. Handling shred duties are none other than Cameron Porras (guitar/vocals) and Scott Bradley (bass), who both perform incredible feats on Clockworks. For merely being a three-piece, the musicality is on such a distinct level of composition. Each member truly took their time to understand each other’s experience and play off of that, and the result is nothing short of a technical masterpiece.
Technical Death Metal is such a difficult genre remain relevant in simply due to the progression of time. With other genres of Extreme Metal, a band can stay based on a certain type of composition, as the genre won’t evolve to such an extent that they are threatened extinction. With Tech-Death, however, every year brings yet another band who will shred the ass off of the last; you have to improve your chops constantly to stay relevant in the genre. It’s quite apparent, however, that Inanimate Existence are certainly not tossing in a white flag with Clockworks. What Inanimate Existence do so fluently within the record is combine the various elements of Extreme Metal aside from just an overly badass level of technicality. Between melodic interventions, to the progressive song structures, to the various harmonies scattered throughout, and the atmosphere they create, there is no shortage of creative outlet in their compositions. There are also elements of immense brutality to be found in Clockwork’s contents, the likes that haven’t surfaced earlier in their discography, which is all the more welcome. Naturally, these guys still utilize their technical abilities, yet they don’t stray from the actual songwriting to do so, which is the most overlooked necessity of Technical Death Metal.
In addition to shredding our minds into oblivion, Inanimate Existence manage to shatter our understanding of reality with the various philosophical ideas explored in the record’s concepts. Each record has its own story to it, which have only increased in quality as their discography gained experience. 2017’s Underneath a Melting Sky was neck-deep in a fantasy-based story, telling of an obsessive alchemist who focuses upon nothing but his work and his life’s journey into the next realm. In reality, it was describing the act of self-perfecting one’s work and one’s very own being. With Clockworks, Inanimate Existence have gone in yet another direction of philosophical questioning with the idea of mortality, stating that the concept is that of “dealing with the human tendency to struggle with the acceptance of mortality and our limited time on earth. It explores the questions we torment ourselves with during life along with the irony of how small and insignificant we are in the grand scheme of the universe. The title refers to the mechanisms of a clock and how every tick brings you closer to your doom”. This concept is one of such ambition and overbearing creativity, yet it’s never been explored thoroughly in Death Metal. Naturally, Black Metal has had its hand in questioning mortality and the purpose of it, or the contrary when it comes to DSBM, yet it has escaped the grasp of Death Metal for some time. Alas, the theme is handled with remarkable maturity and though on Clockworks, and is able to truly enhance the musicality of the record, rather than simply being a thematic gimmick.
The track below is the 7th on the record, being “Ocean.” The track is especially lenient on the atmospherical presence and harmonies mentioned prior, which serves as a precursor to the technical onslaught on display throughout the rest of the track. It also features quite a few melodic interludes as well, which are made all the more emotive with the addition of orchestral elements as an additional touch. Essentially, this track is proof of Inanimate Existence’s sonic evolution. If you’re looking for technically proficient yet beautifully composed Death Metal, look no further.