Designed Obsolescence (Unique Leader), the latest LP from Technical Death Metal supergroup (we’ll get to that) Continuum has a quite a bit going for it. Continuum hails from the modern death metal hotbed that is California and features former members of acts ranging from Rings of Saturn, Allegaeon, Pathology, Decrepit Birth and more, so you don’t even have to listen to a single note on Designed Obsolescence to know that these dudes can play. Yeah, they can fucking play with technicality and precision that this writer will never grasp.
Riffs and cascading double kick drums rain down like the most violent hailstorm ever recorded by modern science. Vocalist Riley McShane barks like a mad dog looking to be let off the leash while the tempo rarely dips below Tesla Model S speeds. So, it’s all good then? All the death metal boxes seemed to be checked off, right? Yes, and yet I can’t connect with Designed Obsolescence.
I’m not sure if I’m having problems with the production or the way the songs are presented, but there’s a sterility here that doesn’t click with my musical palate. ‘Theorem’ is as technically sound as modern metal can get yet it won’t come alive until lead guitarist Chase Fraser is allowed to have some fun later in the track. The title track is another thorough exercise in accuracy, but it only becomes truly memorable when the speeds get dialed back a hair and some keyboards add texture and color.
If I could be allowed to make one suggestion to Continuum, and again I am merely a writer who can barely hold up his drum sticks let alone play well, is to let Fraser add more flavor in the way of lead guitar and cut back on the gurgling vocals of McShane. He can bellow the growls like nobody’s business, but not every inch of song needs vocals. Fans of modern Death Metal particularly the Unique Leader catalog will get their money’s worth out of Designed Obsolescence no doubt, but next time I’d like it with a little more feeling.
6 / 10