• Bertus Elings

Albums | Deviant Process, Nurture


De Canadese progressive deathmetalband Deviant Process heeft afgelopen vrijdag een nieuw album aan de wereld getoond: Nurture. Het tweede full length album van deze heren. Een album om meer dan trots op te zijn. Of het iets toevoegt aan hetgeen we allemaal al kennen, is de vraag, maar “iets-nieuws- toevoegen-aan-hetgeen-we-allemaal-al-kennen” is volgens mij niet per se een vereiste voor het maken van een album dat lekker in het gehoor ligt en het beluisteren meer dan waard is.


Nurture trapt af met In Worship, In Blood, een zevenenhalf minuten durende tentoonstelling van hetgeen deze mannen muzikaal in huis hebben. Het virtuoze gitaarspel loopt als een rode draad door het hele album heen, evenals het strakke drumwerk van drummer Michel Bélanger. Die laatste doet het überhaupt erg goed op dit album en kan nergens betrapt worden op ‘luieren’, ‘de kantjes eraf lopen’ of een andere vorm van inkakken.


Gaandeweg, vooral bij een nummer als Emergence, blijkt dat het ook een heel aanstekelijk album is. De ritmes lopen zo lekker dat ze bijna uitnodigen tot meezingen. Als je het album een paar keer hebt beluisterd, betrap je jezelf er op dat je de akoestische breaks in nummers als The Hammer of Dogma gewoon mee-neuriet.


Dit alles gezegd hebbend, heeft Nurture helaas ook zijn minder goeie kant. Soms is het gewoon een beetje veel, namelijk. Soms ontstaat het idee dat het wel een tandje minder mag. In The Blessing of Annihilation Infinite, bijvoorbeeld. Een heel complex en buitengewoon goed en strak uitgevoerd nummer. Maar…als je een nummer zó snel, zó complex en zó zuiver uitvoert en je combineert dat ook nog eens met een vlekkeloze productie, loop je de kans dat het ten onder gaat aan zijn eigen kwaliteit. Hoe zeer je het rauwe randje dan ook aan een nummer fabriceert, op een gegeven moment raakt dat randje zo gepolijst, dat het niet meer rauw is. Dan oogt het alleen nog rauw. Dat wordt het té gelikt, té mooi, té netjes en té strak. Dan ontbreekt er iets ‘menselijks’.


Releasedatum: 15 oktober 2021


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Too often in metal, limits and boundaries are pushed at the expense of taste. Bands and fans alike can be found showering bursts of attention onto the latest hotshots redlining along at the fastest BPMs, at whose got the most unintelligibly guttural vocals, at who can generate the most indistinguishably chaotic guitar tone and/or how picture-perfect and sanitized rhythm sections can deliver their click-tracked wares. More often than not, all this comes at the expense of clarity, soul, groove and, most importantly, good songs. For Québec City’s Deviant Process, this sort of thing has been happening too much and for too long. And while the progressive tech-death quartet are tuned in to their surroundings, the band have made a conscious decision to drop out, but not before turning on those obsessed with the likes of classic Death, Cynic and Pestilence as well as contemporaries Obscura, Beyond Creation and Fractal Universe with Nurture, their second full-length and first for Season of Mist.

Deviant Process’ history goes back to 2008 with Villeneuve kicking out the one-man symphonic black metal jams under the guise of Psychic Pain. A self-produced demo caught the attention of fellow axe-swinger and musical soul mate, Simard, who together with bassist Pierre-Luc Beaulieu and drummer Olivier Genest, completed the band’s original line-up. In 2011, the foursome recorded two-track debut EP Narcissistic Rage after a common bond led to a shift in musical direction.

Following the release of Narcissistic Rage, Deviant Process honed their chops on local stages, opening for the likes of Cryptopsy and Revocation, and in rehearsal rooms, delving deeper into the ways and means of expanding technical death metal beyond jaw-dropping tempos and flashy fretboard finger gymnastics. Replacing Genest with drummer Antoine Baril (who produced and engineered Narcissistic Rage) introduced broader rhythmic elements to the new material, everything from rock-solid four-on-the-floor heavy metal pounding to side-winding jazz and hi-brow classical percussion. In the summer of 2013, the band entered Baril’s Hemisphere Studio with the help of Chris Donaldson (Cryptopsy, Beneath the Massacre, Ingested, Ophidian I) to capture what would become debut album, Paroxysm. To say their first full-length endeavor was a challenge is an understatement. During what ended up being a three-year operation, François Fortin took over both production and drumming duties, production work shifted studio locations from Hemisphere to La Boîte Noire, and the insanely busy Baril (who also plays in Augury, From Dying Suns and Contemplator and owns the studio in which Paroxysm was recorded) made the decision to leave the band during the mixing process. By the production had been completed, bassist/lyricist Philippe Cimon replaced Beaulieu.

Deviant Process may have been bruised and battered by the end of the process, but they emerged stronger, more intent and focused, with a new lease on life, a solid line-up (drummer Francois C. Fortin replaced Michel Bélanger, who had stepped up after Baril left) and Paroxysm which was initially released by recently shuttered Canadian label, PRC Music. Paroxysm was supported by slots opening for the likes of Archspire, First Fragment, Beyond Creation and Gorod. But it was a mini-tour in the band’s home province opening for Gorguts and Dysrhythmia in 2017 that brought them to the attention of Season of Mist. The band and label felt each other out, went into negotiations and finalized a deal in 2018.

This brings us to the present and forthcoming second album, Nurture. Its seven songs (and one cover, of Obliveon’s “Cybervoid”) are an expansive marvel of not just technical death metal maturity, but the seamless inclusion of foreign elements like the tribal fusion middle-eight in “In Worship, In Blood,” the almost free-jazz chaos that introduces and drives “Emergence,” the Latin-folk-meets-British-prog acoustic flourishes in “Syrtis Magna” and tinges of ‘90s Rush weaved into the complex firestorm of “Asynchronous.” It’s a record that the guitar-slinging duo said they officially started working on in the autumn of 2017, so as to take advantage of the opportunity afforded to them by their new label, but one in which the material harkens back to 2008 as the band has been unafraid to dip into its extensive riff bank for the meticulously perfect idea that’ll connect this and that, old with new, brutal and delicate, and balls out with brains out.

Nurture bobs and weaves like the sonic manifestation of a worryingly tall and fantastically ripped mathematics/quantum physics double-major who spends nights crunching noses and ear cartilage after spending days crunching numbers and calculating the size of the universe. Tidal layers of barbarous guitars engage in a baroque convergence/divergence dance and are bounced off prominent, fusion-inspired bass playing. The drumming stops and spins on a dime from ambient sparseness to clogging every artery of space while Villeneuve unleashes an insanely unholy barrage of black metal screams, death metal growls and full-throated, muscular bellowing, everything being put on display throughout dizzying album centrepiece “The Blessings of Annihilation Infinite.”

Thematically, Nurture uses veiled lyrical references and far-reaching metaphors in the exploration of human experience commonalities. What’s being referenced may not be blatantly or entirely revealed, but spend enough time parsing and decoding Philippe Cimon’s lyrics and it’s clear that even if the dude is living in a perpetual game of 3-D chess, he empathizes with what we’re all dealing with and understands where we’re all coming from and where we’re all going.

With Season of Mist having their backs, Deviant Process has quickly been thrust into an unfamiliar world of having to select and settle on variant vinyl colours, conjure up multiple t-shirt designs, tend to contractual and legal matters, PR responsibilities, out-of-province and international communication and all that fun behind-the-scenes business stuff. The band is still adjusting to industry demands and encountering stressful situations they hadn’t thought of, assumed they’d ever have to consider or even know existed. Ironically, what’s brought them to this point is their own boundless and borderless take on extreme metal. They may be “a small band that wants to be not small,” and Nurture has helped them get their collective foot in the door to a world populated by the stable of bands they blasted while growing up and still blast today when time away from rewriting the rules of technical death metal permit.