The music of tech deathers Origin produces either a smile or a grimace. Outer space themed! Insanely fast! Insanely technical!…but also a blender of sound and a stagnant end point close to frigid techno. Really, resembling a computer blurp isn’t something everyone aspires to (or wants to listen to). 2008’s Antithesis changed the narrative by adding some much-needed melody to the song writing, but 2011’s Entity was seemingly a step back to the calculating logic of previous works. Part of that may have been due to the departure of original vocalist James Lee, which left Origin as a trio.
Some things have changed for Origin in 2014 though – Omnipresent is the most dynamic album they’ve released. Not only does it feature actual songs, but it also marks a point where the ‘technical’ doesn’t overtake the ‘death metal’.
Omnipresent introduces former Skinless vocalist Jason Keyser, and right away, he adds what Origin has been lacking in their cosmic metal explorations: fun. See, if I’m going on an expedition to the stars, then I want more than a chance to marvel at the starship’s precision and efficiency. I want some hyperspace, adventures in an asteroid belt, but also just a chance to marvel at the otherworldly beauty. By giving the musicians room to do what they do best, Keyser makes the songs more memorable. There are still a million notes stuffed into each song, but now there’s more of a feeling that those notes have purpose, that they bounce and sway to a rhythm you can get behind. Songs like “Thrall:Fulcrum:Apex” and “Source of Icon 0” are built upon sweep-picking and double-blasting, but there’s also a rhythmic tug-of-war between the band members that’s energetic without being clinical.
Another reason for the change may be due to the resurgence of Gorguts. I can’t help but hear a little of bit of the clarity and crunch from that band’s triumphant return echoed here, thanks to drummer John Longstreth’s brief tenure with Lemay’s outfit and work on the boards from Colin Marston. As suffocating as technical death metal can be, by scaling it back to some people playing precisely, instead of mirroring a computer’s efforts, Origin have delivered an album worth not just admiring, but actually listening to during your life on Earth.