Archspire Bring Blinding Speed to Varsity Theater

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Technical Death Metal enthusiasts got the dream package this past week – self-proclaimed but also absolutely-valid fastest-band-on-the-planet Archspire brought their The Everything’s F#*!@D to Varsity Theater this past Wednesday and brought an army of note-slinging, face-melting death metal goodness with them in Alluvial, Carcosa and Aborted.

Atlanta’s Alluvial are up and coming in the scene, with the impeccable Sarcoma released a few years back a brand new EP (Death is But A Door) dropped this year, the four piece have been on the grind bringing their tech-death meets deathcore sound with impressive ferocity. That sound translates incredibly well – vocalist Kevin Muller is very adept at commanding the huge sound they have on display, barking and screaming with vitriol as the band weaves its way through its incredibly tight songs. Set highlight was the title-track off of Sarcoma.

Second band Carcosa’s excellent vocalist Johnny Ciardullo was quick to call out that they were the odd duck out in the lineup, a deathcore band hanging with a bunch of tech death behemoths. The band has been on a meteoric rise since their tiktok gags have been making the waves, but that’s only part of the picture – the 4 piece bring the kind of seasoned execution that you’d typically get out of much older bands, an extremely tight, impactful flow of djent riffs flowing into huge breakdowns as Ciardullo shows off his impressive range screaming about “whatever I want, because I’m an adult” in both stomach churning gutturals and impressive squeals. Carcosa are only going to get bigger and bigger and it’s easy to see.

 Aborted released a new album – Vault of Horrors – just a few short months ago, and it is one hell of an overwhelming death metal juggernaut. Bringing those tracks to a new stage meant that people who hadn’t seem them in some time – which was almost everyone since they hadn’t been in the US since early 2023 – were in for a real treat. Sven de Caluwé wasted no time kicking things into high gear, leaning into a powerful growl as the opening notes of “Retrogore” began to play. Whether you consider the band a tech band or just regular death metal, their blistering pace and precise musicianship leaves no room for anything besides amazement. Sven is an animal onstage, putting every ounce of his body into his lows and arch his back for the ear-splitting highs like a deranged animal – a wonderful sight to behold. Not as wonderful, perhaps, as the band asking everyone to party and blaring Darude’s “Sandstorm” at the end of their set – which the crowd went nuts for.

Archspire are oxymoronic – they are both the most intense, serious band when it comes to musicianship whilst simultaneous being possibly one of the silliest collections of musicians in the death metal space. It’s no surprise then that live, they attempt to convey both of these energies – and they completely smash it. Opening with a short intro about the pursuit of speed which includes the gem of a sentence “since mankind invented the horse”, the band then launches into “Bleed the Future” off the 2021 album of the same name, and then it’s just notes notes notes everywhere. 

It often feels like an immense privilege to witness bands from so up close, but watching the virtuoso display of each person on stage was really something to behold up close. It really defies belief watching Archspire play their material – and play it so (apparently) effortlessly, and with such absolute transparent delight. Between Oliver Aleron’s staccato vocals, Dean Lamb’s transcendent sweep picking and Spencer Prewett’s near-automaton level of intensity and precision behind the drumkit, it is somehow simultaneously completely overwhelming and also makes complete sense. 

Then each song ends, and Archspire are up to some ole kind of shenanigan again – like getting the crowd to play some Twister or cracking a few jokes about how – indeed – everything is a little F#*!@D right now, so why not sit back and enjoy the party?

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