Svengahli – Nightmares of Our Own Design (EP Review)

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It’s already been postulated that we long ago reached peak tech death, to the point that the only thing distinguishing bands is songwriting ability. Talent? Pfft. You need droves of that shit just to compete in this genre. If a band wants to thrive, they’ll need something no amount of study can offer: they need a distinct identity. And I’m not gonna lie, the first few listens you give “Nightmares of Our Own Design” will take tech metal and djent aficionados down a few familiar, Cynical paths. And if you’re like me, you might praise the group’s talent, but almost resent how obvious their love of “Focus” is. And you might shelve it for a week or two for that reason.

And then you might dust it off and spin it without judgment. And you just might appreciate it all the more for that. The baby of Exist bassist Alex Weber, Svengahli capably delivers all the goods that tech death fans demand with their debut EP, drawing mostly on jazz and the jazz metal greats of yore in order to announce their own arrival. Astute listeners might even liken opening track “Writing on the Wall” to the work of the criminally overlooked Dutch instrumental quartet Exivious, but with, you know, vocals. What those same astute listeners might not be able to deduce, however, are that these drums are freaking programmed. While any metal band worth its weight would clearly prefer a live drummer on any recording, we must be realistic and allow that music this complex might simply be beyond the grasp the musicians available to record for Mr Weber. The music is damn good, after all, and that’s what matters. That I had to read the band’s bio to learn that there’s no live drummer on this EP is testament to how well Svengahli pulled off the programming.

“Nightmares of Our Own Design” EP Artwork

It packs as solid a punch as it promises, and for all Svengahli’s shameless odes to the bands who’ve inspired them, “Nightmares of Our Own Design” is as mature and as fully formed a debut offering as we have any right to expect from anyone. That these songs are mostly under a year old further indicates that Svengahli is a band you might want to keep your eyes on.

Released by: Self Released
Released date: March 6th, 2019
Genre: Progressive Death Metal

Musicians:

  • Alex Weber / Vocals, Bass, Drum Programming
    Matt Rossa / Guitars
  • Charlie Eron / Synths, Guitars
  • Anup Sastry / Drum Programming and Production

Guest Musicians:

  • Rafael Trujillo / Lead guitar
  • Kevin Hufnagel / Lead guitar

“Nightmares of Our Own Design” track-listing:

  1. Writing on the Wall
  2. Nightmares of Our Own Design Part 1: Echoes of Prejudice
  3. Nightmares of Our Own Design Part 2: Adrift
  4. Nightmares of Our Own Design Part 3: Our Hate Ignited
8.0 Great

You know how Athena emerged fully formed from her father's head? That's Svengahli in a nutshell. You would never guess that “Nightmares of Our Own Design” was Svengalhi's debut offering if you were to hear it, and considering how demanding tech death is by its very nature, that is high praise indeed.

  • Songwriting 8
  • Musicianship 9
  • Originality 7
  • Production 8
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