Technical death metal is a genre that is getting harder and harder to break into…or better said, to break out of. Icelandic shredders Ophidian I are some of the latest entrants in the “who is playing all those notes?” stakes.
I kept having to listen to this release over and over…because I couldn’t really remember just what it sounded like clearly enough to write this review. And that’s the bad thing that I have to say about this well-played set: like so many tech-death records, it’s not very memorable.
Having said that, “Solvet Saeclum” is a well-executed genre piece. Deep growls, very frequent shifts in tempo, active and slick drum kit, thick guitars, lots of changes—it’s all there. Slap bass and acoustic guitar make several appearances and provide a bit of ear-catching interest among the formulaic bits.
Depending on your personal taste and individual appetite for death metal, I’ve just either turned you off this album or got you excited to hear it. Sometimes a death metal fan is in the mood for technical death metal and those times are when the subtleties that distinguish one record from another are heard and appreciated. “Solvet Saeclum” is a solid choice for those moods, but I doubt most fans of the genre would reach for repeated listens before their Obscura or Spawn of Possession albums.
Now, these Ice-men can definitely play (they have some member crossover with the promising Beneath among their number, among others); so maybe “Solvet Saeclum” does not represent the most creative material that they are capable of. I hope it doesn’t, because Ophidian I have showed some tantalizing potential here. But they will have to do more next time out or they will be lost in the vast cloud of notes kicked up by the tech-death herd.