Interview with vocalist Oli Peters | By Christopher J. Harrington
Speed is not the only magic potion tech-death masters Archspire yield. The Vancouver, British Columbia-based quintet also transport some devastatingly groovy and harmonious mystic dust that’ll spin you yonder and beyond. The band’s latest multifarious beast, Relentless Mutation—out Sept. 22 via Season Of Mist—is a conjunction of taste and progression.
“One of the main differences on the new record is there’s more of a melodic element,” vocalist Oli Peters notes. “I think we’ve always really tried to push the bar stylistically and technically, and Relentless Mutation is another step in that direction.”
Some sections on the new album will undoubtedly create whiplash and other bodily harm—“The manic speed is certainly intended,” Peters laughs—but this is an epically warm and lush work of art. There’s an underlying circuitry that pulses like shifting data networks in the Sombrero Galaxy: at once gentle, technical, and still very much organic. “I don’t even own a cellphone,” Peters admits. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me. You know, we’re a bunch of sci-fi punk vets, and I think the band’s connection is something that goes a long way. We grew up together, lived down the road from one another, and really worked hard to get to this point.”
If 2014’s The Lucid Collective showcased a sound mightily beyond anything familiar, Relentless Mutation even further distances itself: a record that is urban, transient, and colorful in a sort of invisible, crystalline way. The landscape of Vancouver is painted in cubist blocks and transported to the dark future eons of cities of surrealistic glass. There’s a reflection on the new album that can’t be ignored. This is a thing of continuity and variance. “Nobody comes in with a specific finished song,” Peters says. “We put it together as one collective unit—and there’s all sorts of stuff going on. Rap is a big influence on my vocal style, artists like Tech N9ne and Busta Rhymes, and both [Archspire guitarists], Tobi [Morelli] and Dean [Lamb], are guitar nerds; they really love that ‘80s guitar shred.”
Relentless Mutation flies by in a blur. Like all transcendental death metal, the record has the charm of circular listening. You spin it and then spin it again, and it keeps getting better and more particular. It keeps ending faster, and the listener must keep playing it and playing it, and then, it evens out. The sections become a dream: engaged, but not totally clear. There’s an athletic quality to the rigidity of the record, a clean and natural sensibility. “It’s sort of sport in the sense that we’re pushing each other continuously, physically and creatively,” Peters relays. “It’s certainly hard to write dynamic stuff when you’re not feeling healthy. We’re not a party band. On the road, we try to eat well and stay hydrated. It’s imperative to the sort of music we play.”
There’s coldness in Archspire, something like the chilly mountaintops that surround their native city, but there’s infinite warmth too. That open and immaculate western sky careens off each and every dizzying riff, every half-man, half-machine vocal onslaught. You become connected, sort of in the way Vera Webster is transformed into an evil nightmare cyborg in “Superman III”—such insanity in silver, wired visions. These are the creeping things that Archspire do amazingly well. They are connected like few others. “A fucked-up dream might be the basis for a song concept,” Peters laughs, “or at least a certain section of it. I’ll bring it to the dudes, and we’ll ring it out from there.”
Like spirals of unbounded layers, Archspire ring the essence of dynamism.
Photo by Alex Morgan