The Washington Post

Refined Primitivism: Masters of Technical Death Metal

DEATH METAL IS barbaric. Double-bass-drum beatdowns wrestle with detuned machine-gun guitars, canon-like bass lines and vocalists who sound like they’re murdering a yak.

Technical death metal is even more brutal. Not only does all that destruction occur, but it’s done with frightening precision, jazz-like harmonies and fierce attention to detail.

On Friday, Jaxx is hosting a technical death-metal concert featuring a collection of extreme bands that will make you marvel at their musicianship even as they crush you into submission.

Atheist was at the forefront of tech-death. Its 1991 album, “Unquestionable Presence,” was a major kick in the pants to metal, and its third, 1993’s “Elements,” even featured warm Latin American and Brazilian music mixed with ice-cold metal.

Atheist shares members with Gnostic, but there’s no ideological battle: Gnostic’s “Engineering the Rule,” is filled with the sort of jackhammering that would make even the nonbelievers proud.

The Faceless and Psyopus feature young musicians who must have made deals with the devil in order to shred with such wizardry. Psyopus’ third album, “Odd Senses,” is a bizarre masterwork of advanced harmonies, spastic rhythms and grindcore energy, and the Faceless’ second, the sci-fi steeped “Planetary Duality,” comes from the Meshuggah school of more is never enough. Both records are outstanding displays of progressive, life-affirming technical death.

» Jaxx, 6355 Rolling Road, Springfield, Va.; Fri., July 10, 6 p.m., $23; 703-569-5940.

Photo courtesy Metal Blade



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express · July 8, 2009